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Japanese Knotweed

von Siebold and the Japanese Knotweed

by Chris ~ 27 November, 2020 ~ one comment

Philipp Franz von Siebold was a nineteenth century German doctor and botanist, who worked for several years in Japan, accumulating an extensive collection of plants and animals from that area.  He was responsible for the introduction of  a number of (now common) garden plants to Europe - such Hostas and Hydrangea. Siebold is almost unknown outside Japan except among gardeners as many plants incorporate sieboldii and sieboldiana in their specific names - for example, species of Primula, cherry (Prunus), Sedum and Viburnum.  Siebold was also associated with the introduction of tea cultivation to Java.  On his return to Europe, he was based in Leiden where he worked on cataloguing and identifying his twelve thousand botanical specimens.  

Unfortunately, one of the plants that Siebold introduced was the Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica, syn. Fallopia japonica). This has become a highly invasive weed in Europe and North America. The plant was discovered growing on the side of a volcano; it was named as the “most interesting new ornamental plant of the year” by the Society of Agriculture and Horticulture in Utrecht. Read more...

Bark : damage

Bark : damage

by Chris ~ 20 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Wind, fire and frost can seriously damage or kill trees.   Animals also wound them when they feed on bark tissues, and when they rub their bodies or antlers against tree trunks. Insects, like bark beetles can cause significant damage damage to woodlands and forests.

The extent of damage to trunks and the bark of trees varies considerably in relation to the nature of the ‘attack’.  If the damage to the bark is severe and the vascular cambium is exposed then neither new water nor sugar conducting tissue can be formed.  Damage to the (outer) cork cambium (phellogen) will limit the trees ability to form the outer tissues of the bark - which protect the tree.  If the damage is restricted to the outermost bark layer then this will render the tree more susceptible to further damage (be it from herbivores or temperature extremes). Read more...

upland stream

“The Scottish Uplands: how to revive a degraded landscape” a talk by Dr Helen Armstrong

by Angus ~ 14 November, 2020 ~ 2 comments

Checking through my emails, I came across a link sent by a friend to one of the winter talks in the program offered by the Botanical Society of Scotland - specifically The Scottish Uplands: how to revive a degraded landscapeby Dr Helen Armstrong.  The talk was live-streamed but was also recorded and is available here.  

Dr Armstrong spent 24 years at the Nature Conservancy Council, the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forest Research carrying out research and advisory work.

The following is an attempt to summarise some of the key features of her informative and enlightening talk. Read more...


November Fungi Focus: Amethyst Deceiver (Laccaria amethystina) and the documentary Fantastic Fungi

by Jasper Sharp ~ 12 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

There has been such a diversity of interesting things popping up in the woods recently then fading right back almost as soon as they appear that it is almost overwhelmingly difficult to know where to lay ones focus for November’s post. In just a few weeks or so the peak mushroom season will be over, and then these monthly articles will be move away from our more typical looking types to the whatever crusts, rusts, slimes or jellies are out at any given time. At the moment, however, it seems like a Sisyphean task just trying to keep up with monitoring and capturing on camera the rich and colourful array of species appearing in brief successive waves in my local woods after spending so much of the year lying dormant – a task tinged with the sadness of knowing it will all be easing off again shortly. Read more...

Bark, its nature and uses.

Bark, its nature and uses.

by Chris ~ 6 November, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Bark is the term that is often applied to the outer covering of tree stems and other woody plants. It serves to protect a tree from 

  • Water loss
  • Insect attack
  • Infection by bacteria and fungi
  • Physical damage (by fire, animals, rock fall)

The nature of bark is immensely variable.  In some trees, the bark is extremely rough, corrugated and thick.  In others it is is thinner and appears to peel off in strips.   Redwoods are noted for having an extremely thick bark (see featured image above). Their bark is very fibrous and can be up to three feet thick. Read more...

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

AI technology harnessing the hoverflies.

by Lewis ~ 2 November, 2020 ~ 2 comments

The loss of pollinators, particularly honey bees, may bring about a synergy between pollinators such as hover flies and artificial intelligence technology.  Honey bees (and indeed bumblebee)s have been hit hard by habitat loss, pollution, the  extensive use of pesticides and the spread of viruses and varroa.  Bees provide an important ecosystem service, namely pollination.   bees provide the majority of plant pollination world-wide but the bees are fighting a losing battle and this represents a threat to food supplies.  In the United States, bee hives are 'bussed around' in a somewhat 'cavalier manner', indeed "Hives may be moved multiple times and several thousand miles per year" Read more...

Friend or foe ?

Friend or foe ?

by Chris ~ 29 October, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Honey bees face many threats - such viruses, mites and pesticides, but also threats from their own kind - robber bees.   When nectar becomes scarce at the end of the summer and into autumn, then bees will seek food wherever they can find it - like honey from other colonies.  From the robber bees ‘point of view’, this is simply another form of foraging behaviour.  This robbing of honey deprives a colony of an important winter resource.  

To limit this behaviour, hives have guard or gatekeeper bees, who ‘inspect’ all arriving bees.  But how do they know who is friend and who is foe?  Not being able to tell the difference could mean a long and lean winter, with little honey in the hive.  Honey bees can recognise members of their community / hive by detecting waxy chemicals present in their exoskeleton (cuticle) known as cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC’s). Read more...

Tree planting again .....

Tree planting again …..

by Angus ~ 23 October, 2020 ~ one comment

The woodland’s blog has reported on various tree planting initiatives, particularly that presented by the CCC (Committee on Climate change).  This Committee has called for some 1.5 billion new trees to be planted by 2050.   This would require approximately 30,000 hectares of land to be planted each year.  If this were to happen, it would increase Britain’s forest / woodland cover from 13% to 19%; probably the highest level since Roman times.  Sir Harry Studholme, the outgoing chairman of the Forestry Commission has said that such a target is achievable but has urged caution so that mistakes of the past are not repeated. 


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