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July’s Fungi Focus: Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)

July’s Fungi Focus: Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 12 July, 2019 ~ one comment

Members of the kingdom of the fungi can essentially be divided into the two basic categories of basidiomycetes and ascomycetes. The basidiomycetes form and release their spores on specialised cells called basidia, which can be found on the underside gills of our more familiar mushroom and toadstool-shaped types, or within the pores of boletes and brackets and suchlike. 

Ascomycetes, however, produce their spores in the elongated cells known as asci that cover their spore releasing surface. Each individual ascus can contain usually around 8 spores, like snooker balls in a sock, which then get released out of the end when ready: the word is derived from the Greek for wineskin or sac. Typically we might think of cup fungi, such as the various members of the Peziza genus, like the Blistered Cup (Peziza vesiculosa) depicted here, whose favoured substrates of well-rotted manure or compost heaps lends has led to its alternate common name of the Common Dung Cup.  Read more...

A busman’s holiday, part 2

A busman’s holiday, part 2

by Dick ~ 8 March, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Having put in place the basic infrastructure so that I can store tools, equipment and firewood and have somewhere for shelter and to work, my attention turned to the top two priorities on my ‘to do’ list – well actually, numbers 2 and 3, number one will always remain ‘relax, do nothing and just enjoy it’.

Firstly there is a semi-circular clearing near the eastern side of what is essentially a triangular plot. I have planted a ‘family copse’ Read more...

Elver stream

“The dream comes true – finding the perfect woodland”

by Kellie ~ 28 February, 2018 ~ one comment

We had talked about buying land for about 15 years and had been looking seriously for about 7 years. We had a fairly big wish list, private, quiet and secluded, not too near a road, but with good vehicular access, lots of broadleaf trees and some utility trees, a stream or two would be ideal, a sunny clearing with good night sky views and all within our very humble budget!   We looked at lots of  woodlands, but nothing ever really ticked all our boxes or felt right, so we just kept looking and wishing.

A new piece of woodland near us came up for sale so one Friday after work we excitedly went to have a look. Read more...

How George Peterken helped to save Britain's ancient woodlands, and his new book - "Woodland Development"

How George Peterken helped to save Britain’s ancient woodlands, and his new book – “Woodland Development”

by Angus ~ 20 October, 2017 ~ 2 comments

I met up with George Peterken, the man who has probably done more than any living person to protect Britain's ancient Woodlands.  He continues to study woods in fine detail to find out how they actually work and he has written a new book, "Woodland Development" where he explains how a 70-year study of Lady Park Woodland in the Wye Valley has revealed detail on how a broadleaved woodland develops.  Young trees that are just slightly larger than others at the beginning tend to stay larger: "within the first decade, probably sooner, those which are destined to become big trees will have already established themselves as the larger saplings - it's like the boat race: getting an early lead means you probably win in the long run."   Read more...

More productive forestry trees (and Dr Steve Lee).

More productive forestry trees (and Dr Steve Lee).

by Angus ~ 24 November, 2016 ~ comments welcome

Since 1960 commercial trees in the UK have become about 25% more productive.  This has been achieved through selective breeding, mostly of Sitka Spruce and Scots pine where plants have been chosen for their rapid growth.  It has also led to better quality timber which produces more sawlogs.  Unfortunately according to the Forestry Commission's Steve Lee, no similar effort has been made with broadleaved trees so they have suffered a relative disadvantage compared to the progress with conifers.  He says, "We dropped tree selection for broadleaved trees in the 1960s because it was thought to be not worthwhile."

Read more...

Bud burst and street lights.

Bud burst and street lights.

by Lewis ~ 24 August, 2016 ~ 2 comments

Street lighting may make our roads and homes safer places, but it also contributes to light pollution.  The bright lights of towns and cities make it difficult for us to see the stars and constellations in the night skies.  In places, the ‘warm yellow’ glow of street lights is being replaced with the white light of LEDs,  the benefits of LED lights include energy savings plus an increased life time as compared to conventional lights. However, when compared to older street lamps they emit more  blue light increases.   Some think that this blue light can suppress the production of melatonin ; this is involved in the regulation of our circadian rhythms - particularly our sleep patterns. Read more...

How are owners and woodland managers responding to climate change?

How are owners and woodland managers responding to climate change?

by Angus ~ 11 November, 2015 ~ one comment

Gabriel Hemery of the Sylva Foundation has a deep interest in how woodland owners behave.  He wants to know what's really happening out there so he's been asking people - particularly about how they are responding to environmental change.  Bearing in mind that 92% of British deciduous woodlands are privately owned, Dr Gabriel Hemery points out that it's worth finding out about the attitudes of woodland owners and their managers. Recently he got the views of about 1,500 of those with an interest in woodlands.  It's the British Woodlands Resilience Survey and some of the results were surprising. Read more...

The new 'must-read' tree book : "The Ash Tree" by Oliver Rackham

The new ‘must-read’ tree book : “The Ash Tree” by Oliver Rackham

by Angus ~ 5 November, 2014 ~ one comment

When I last saw Oliver Rackham I was infected by his curiosity.  Someone suggested, as we walked though a woodland, that one spot might have been historically used for making charcoal so Dr Rackham dived into the undergrowth armed only with a set of keys and dug into the soil and he soon emerged triumphant with some old charred remains, proving definitively that this location had in fact been used for charcoal making.  This sort of curiosity and dogged ferreting for facts runs through his new book on the ash tree.  He considers what threats the ash tree faces, but he also uses the book as a platform for a wider diagnosis of the state of British woodlands.   Read more...

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