Tag Archives: Parkland Walk

Tree Following: a follow-up

This time last year, I was ‘following’ a tree on Parkland Walk. I noticed that although all the other Sycamores I was seeing were flowering, this one was not. I made a mental note to investigate if this was a quirk of 2015, and duly visited the tree again this year in May. Guess what? No inflorescences in 2016 either. I don’t know why this lack of flowers might be the case..

Did I notice anything different to last year? More weeds maybe, but the obvious was this:

IMG_2061

.. a dog walking advert!

Strolling on from the Sycamore, I went to  check the Coral-root, a plant which is rare for London and one which I never knew before it was pointed out to me here. It had finished flowering when I was introduced to it late last May, so I was pleased to see it at its floral stage.

The Latin name, Cardamine bulbifera, reflects the fact that the plant bears bulbils in the leaf-axils. They look a bit like rose buds, but will go on to produce new plants, not blooms. Fruits ensuing from the flowers are uncommon, so it’s a good thing there is another propagation method.

Thanks, as ever, to Pat at Squirrelbasket for hosting Tree Following, the monthly sharing of tree observations.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Tree Lines

Tree Following: January

Yesterday I visited the sycamore I’ve been following for the past twelve months, a last visit to scrutinize it so closely. One thing I was curious to know was how the mild winter has affected it. In early January, it should be well and truly dormant, but from what I could observe, the buds were already on the move, bursting their tightness and beginning to stretch into leaves too soon!

IMG_1890

Bud burst… in early January!

The forecasters predict frostier weather later this week, which may well halt the urge to leaf.

A bare tree forces a tree-follower to look closer at the permanent structure, the ‘skeleton’, and I noticed things that perhaps I had seen before but not properly registered and certainly not put into words. The base of the tree is quite craggy, the bark fractured into plates typical of mature sycamores.  The multi-stems are smoother, more skin-like.

IMG_1896

Craggy bark at base of this sycamore

I also noted silvery and green blemishes which I realised were lichens. Are these newly acquired or did I just not spot them before..?

IMG_1892

Lichens

There are dribbles and black staining I seem to have overlooked previously. It appears that two stems have merged together but not so closely that the commingled stem is watertight. This allows for moulds and slimes to take hold which may not have found opportunity otherwise, thus adding to the biodiversity of the tree as an ecosystem in its own right.

IMG_1895

Dibbles and stains

I think the thing that surprised me the most about this tree is that it didn’t produce any flowers and thus no ‘helicopters’. For a tree species that is widely vituperated as a weed, this individual defies the profligate reproduction typical of its kind, this past year at least. I should make a note and see if it produces seed in 2016. Remind me someone, please!! The late Felix Dennis, in his collection of tree verse Tales from the Woods, wrote a poem entitled ‘Sycamore’, noting that Some rave of sycamore as if they crept/ Upon the countryside, hearts full of vice;/ Yet long before this frozen land was swept,/ All trees were interlopers of the ice. He considered it a “noble tree” and chased people off his land who sought to rip up sycamore youngsters.

On that slightly controversial note, I end my year of tree-following. For various reasons I have decided against more official tree-following in 2016, but I will  continue to read with interest those accounts by others. Not forgetting to thank squirrelbasket for hosting this monthly event – cheers Pat!

8 Comments

Filed under Tree Lines

Tree Following: December

Well, the tree I have been following for the past eleven months is well and truly asleep…

IMG_1877

All but four of the leaves have fallen, and the liveliest thing about the tree is the fungi – lots of ear fungus, and a snotty looking fungus whose identity I have no idea.

I’ve usually visited on dry days, preferably when sunny, as I take better pictures of this tree in these conditions, but I didn’t have a chance to this time. The rain had made some interesting patterns on the bark.IMG_1875

Next month will be my final month charting the monthly progress of this tree, though I will continue to observe it every so often. Thanks to Pat of thesquirrelbasket for co-ordinating the Tree Following phenomenon.

4 Comments

Filed under Tree Lines

Tree Following: October

Last month, I missed the deadline for tree following with Loose and Leafy. Well, not this time!

IMG_1777

From  a distance, the tree I am ‘following’ looks like it is still green in canopy but a closer inspection shows another hue is slowly taking hold.. Not as fierce an autumn colour as other Acers such as the Japanese Maples, which flame up in oranges and crimsons, Sycamore takes on butter tones.

IMG_1772

It will be interesting to see how long this tree takes to shed all its leaves – Cherries are very quick, I’ve noticed, whereas London Plane trees can take up to three months to dump their foliage. Think about it.. that’s quarter of a year!!

Until next time, Tree Followers….

1 Comment

Filed under Tree Following

Tree Following: September

OOoops! Tree following time came round again, and I missed the slot to connect with all the other tree followers on the Loose and Leafy blog. Thought yesterday was the 14th, and by the time I’d realised, it was too late to go and take pictures. Still, here is my September update, for anyone who is interested..

The weather is getting autumnal – rainy, with cool nights, and some spells of warm (but not hot) sunshine. The canopy of this sycamore I’m following is still decidedly green though there are a couple of butter coloured leaves on the ground. This is in contrast to the Acer I can see looking out of my window now is strongly tinged with yellow and orange. IMG_1538

With all this extra moisture, the Ear Fungus is listening out again; it was last seen in a fresh state in February and March..

IMG_1541And the first of the seeds are coming down – though, as I mentioned in May, I didn’t spot any flowers on this particular tree, so I guess this half-helicopter twirled in from another tree. I like the contrast between the verdant seed end and the sere brown of the wing. I don’t usually see this transition stage between fresh and dry of the samara (or helicopter), so it was a definite photo opportunity.

IMG_1545 October will no doubt bring more obvious changes, and I promise not to miss the link next time!

2 Comments

Filed under Tree Following

Tree Following: August

The end of summer is beginning, and it is only the middle of August! Some would say it never really started but on Parkland Walk yesterday, when visiting the sycamore I am “following”, I noticed senescent leaves were lying around. Maybe the dry months London has experienced has influenced this (though it’s been rainy in the past few days).

A new observation is the onset of Tar Spot, Rhytisima acerinum. This would have started in spring, but has only become obvious now.  There doesn’t appear to be much of it. I wonder if the powdery mildew I noted in June’s post was actually the development of this fungal infection. Tar Spot can cause early leaf fall, but the leaves I’ve seen scattered around don’t bear any of the blotches typical of this pathogen, so I’m not so sure it’s the reason for the discarded foliage. For those of you who like crisp, clear images, I wasn’t going to include this photo.. but I kinda liked the impressionism of it!

IMG_1531

Anything else to report? Well, there is new graffiti on the new graffiti, but I won’t give the vandals any credence by taking any photographs because it’s mindless, insulting stuff. There’s also a bit of damage to the exposed roots, and the wounds look fresh. I suspect this is an extension of the vandalism; somebody idly chipping away at the bark with a sharp object. What else will this remarkable tree have to put up with..?

More next time… and other trees to look up on the Loose and Leafy blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tree Following, Tree Lines

Tree Following: July

I visited my weed tree a few days ago, before the onset of rain. It’s been very dry in London for the past few weeks, and the earth around this sycamore is parched and dusty. Even the weeds have died off..

IMG_1357

                        No Weeds

On the tree itself, much seemed the same.. until I spotted red protrusions on some of the leaves. I had to clamber into the fork of the multi-stem to get photo. I tended to call these nail galls before, but actually those are more pointy and appear on lime trees, hence their Latin name Eriophyes tiliae. The ones on sycamore are Aceria macroryncha. The galls are caused by mites which feed on the fresh leaves, and each mite can stimulate a number of galls to be produced. In May, the mites will lay eggs into the galls, and the growing larvae will feed on the the lining of the galls. Having only known that these galls were caused by mites, I didn’t know anything about the lifecycle and behaviour before. Now I know, I’ll have a closer look at these galls to see if I can spot the small holes fringed with hairs on the underside of the leaves, through which the mites gain access to the galls to lay their eggs.

IMG_1351

Aceria macrorhyncha mite galls

I’ll be keeping an eye open for the development of Tar Spot, a fungal disease which affects Sycamores in London. As yet, I’ve seen no sign on this tree.

If you haven’t already visited the Loose and Leafy blog, head over there for more tree following links.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tree Following, Tree Lines