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A northern forest

A northern forest

by Angus ~ 18 January, 2019 ~ comments welcome

There is a plan to create a massive northern forest in the UK.  There is a logic behind this in that the UK has only some 13% woodland / forest cover.  This is low as compared to the european average.   More trees will result in more carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere, helping with global warming, and also helping the Government meet its 2050 carbon emissions targets.  The trees will also hopefully enhance the environment, providing habitats and niches for many plants and animals; including us, offering places to walk and unwind.

The plan is to dramatically increase the woodlands and tree cover along the M62 corridor Read more...

Monthly Mushroom: Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Monthly Mushroom: Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

by Jasper ~ 10 January, 2019 ~ comments welcome


We are well past peak mushroom season now, so you can expect some degree of slippage between the various specimens featured in these Monthly Mushroom posts and what can still be found out there in the wild in the month they are posted. Not quite yet, however. Due to a rather mild winter so far, touch wood, there is currently still plenty of interest popping up on lawns, pastures, tree stumps and amongst the leaf litter. 

In any case, there is a whole swathe of fungi that should be coming into their own at the moment if you care to look out for them – although admittedly precious few willingly choose to do so. These are the crust fungi, sometimes known as patch fungi. Instead of the discrete mushroom-like reproductive bodies of our more familiar fungal finds, with their caps, stems and gills, these types manifest themselves on tree trunks, both dead and alive, or on fallen branches, as expanding leathery patches, gelatinous swellings or peeling skin-like layers of varying hues.  Read more...

discarded Christmas tree

Recycling Christmas Trees 

by Chris ~ 1 January, 2019 ~ 2 comments

Each year, some eight million ‘natural’ Christmas Trees [which may be Norway Spruce or Silver Fir or Nordmann Fir  or Scots Pine] are bought in the U.K; it is estimated that several million of these end up in landfill.   When a tree ends up in landfill, it costs the local authority as they have to pay for every tonne of waste sent to landfill. Whilst consigning them to landfill is better than them being discarded in local streets or left on pavements etc, the needles and wood of the trees take time to decompose [think of the soft cushion underfoot when walking through a pine woodland]. Also, the process of decomposition releases significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Sometimes the councils have schemes so that the trees are shredded / chipped to create material that can be used as mulch / weed suppressant / soil conditioner. Read more...

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

by Chris ~ 30 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The loss of woodlands and forest across the world is but another example of human interference with natural ecosystems.    Tropical forests are raided for their exotic hardwoods or subject to wholesale clearing for ‘cash crops’ e.g. oil palms.  However, it would seem that this destruction is nothing new.    

Professors Kaplan and Kolen have analysed soils for ash and suggested that the early (hunter-gatherer) settlers in Europe lit fires to clear the ‘wildwood’ so that grassland or more open woodland / steppe-like areas would develop.    Read more...

Where's your Christmas pudding from ?

Where’s your Christmas pudding from ?

by Lewis ~ 22 December, 2018 ~ one comment

As the only one in the family who likes Christmas Pudding, I  usually treat myself to a commercially produced pudding.  Knowing that it is stuffed full of calories, I looked at the label to see if I could convince myself of its worthiness in terms of fibre or vitamins or  …….   The list of ingredients was significant with many items from different parts of the world.  As well as disregarding the calories, I also decided not to think about the air miles involved.

My Christmas pudding contains the following ‘plant-based’ ingredients : Read more...

leaves of tree of heaven

Unusual or exotic trees – the tree of heaven

by Lewis ~ 13 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The Tree of Heaven or Ailanthus altissima is a species which was introduced to the U.K in 1751 from China.  It arrived in the United States somewhat later, circa 1785 to the Philadelphia area.  It was brought in as an ornamental or exotic tree.  The first introductions were cuttings from male trees.  Ailanthus is a dioecious species, i.e. a tree produces either male or female flowers. So these first trees could not spread or colonise.  However, seeds were then introduced and grown so that there were both male and female trees, and reproduction was possible.

The tree has been grown in gardens, parks and civic settings for many years and is ‘valued’ for its rapid growth, attractive foliage [and colourful, winged fruits]. It flowers and fruits well in hot summers. Read more...

December’s Monthly Mushroom: Curry Milkcap (Lactarius camphoratus)

December’s Monthly Mushroom: Curry Milkcap (Lactarius camphoratus)

by Jasper ~ 7 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

We’re not far from the shortest day of the year now and the concurrent midwinter festive frolics that signal the arrival of Christmas. For the mushroom hunter, however, this brief period of peace and goodwill to all men also brings the slightly melancholic awareness that we are past the peak of the fungi season and it’s going to be comparatively slim pickings over the next eight or nine months.   Nevertheless, my own mycological meanderings received a bit of a boost recently with the discovery of a new site here in East Kent, a public park established on the site of the former Betteshanger colliery  situated midway between Sandwich and Deal.    This pioneering exercise in environmental sustainability makes for a great day out throughout the year no matter wherever your particular interest in the great outdoors might lie. Its 121 hectares are interwoven with cycle tracks to race around while affording some spectacular views of the surrounding area. Read more...

Surviving drought.

Surviving drought.

by Chris ~ 28 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Climate change means that we are likely to experience more extreme weather events from intense and prolonged rainfall to severe drought and heat.  The plants and trees of woodlands may experience periods of flooding, during which their roots may be deprived of oxygen (as the soil is waterlogged) and consequently - die.  Similarly trees and other plants may be subject to drought - resulting in the stunting of growth or even death.  It had been thought that most trees had roots that penetrated deep into the soil (in search of water and minerals) but the aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987 revealed that this was not the case for many types of tree.  The root systems of many trees are, in fact, relatively shallowthe root plate may only reach down some five to six feet. Read more...

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