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The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

by Chris ~ 20 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Atlantic oak woodland is often referred to as the Celtic Rainforest.  It is characterised by lichen covered trees, together with a rich moss and liverwort flora.  The environment is damp and humid, with streams and waterfalls contributing to this. These woodlands have evolved under the influence of the Gulf Stream,  which helps keeps the area warm (and wet).

The difficult access and rugged terrain (in some areas) has helped to preserve these woodlands, plus they have not proved suitable for agriculture or ‘industrial forestry’.  Consequently, in many areas,  they have remained in their 'ancient state', going back to the last ice age.  Their sessile oaks are very important for wildlife but as they are not always productive of good timber, they have often been left to grow to maturity.  By the same token, Birch trees have relatively low timber value - which has been their salvation.  Woodlands like this were more extensive in the past covering the Atlantic fringe of Western Europe from North West Scotland down to the South of Portugal.  This type of woodland is rich in terms of biodiversity (primroses, violets, wild garlic, ferns and grasses) and some species are only to be found here and nowhere else in the world. Read more...

Unusual or exotic trees : Mesquite.

Unusual or exotic trees : Mesquite.

by Lewis ~ 24 January, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Mesquite is the name given to a number of leguminous shrubs or trees that belong to the genus Prosopis. Many of these plants are native to southern parts of the United  States and Mexico, though one species is native to South America - Argentina. Generally, they are plants of very dry (arid or xeric) regions.  They have the capacity to form very long, deep roots that seek water deep underground.

The trees / shrubs are deciduous and their leaves are pinnate (a compound form of leaf); they are also thorny.  The trees produce flowers through Spring and Summer, and the seeds (beans) form in pods.  The trees can be used as a source of timber (for furniture, and in the past ship building). Read more...

HC-leaf

Europe’s threatened trees

by Lewis ~ 20 November, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Recently, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) carried out a survey of the state of trees through Europe, specifically related to their risk of extinction.  There are some four hundred native tree species spread across Europe.  

Trees are not just essential for life on Earth (generating oxygen through photosynthesis) but they also provide food and habitats for hundreds of species - birds, mammals, insects, spiders etc. The loss of tree species has considerable ‘knock on’ effects in terms of the biodiversity of an area. Trees also provide us with timber and other materials (cork, cellulose, oils). Read more...

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

Protecting our trees and woodlands.

by Chris ~ 27 September, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Globalisation is the process by which economies and cultures are drawn together; they become more inter-connected through the flow of trade, capital, people and technology.  This has occurred in part due to the rapid growth of air travel, container shipping etc. so that there are now massive movements of people and goods (both raw and manufactured).   One positive aspect of globalisation is that we have access to foods and materials from all over the world.  A downside is that disease, parasites and pests can ‘hitch a ride’ with people or materials and goods as they move across the world.   Plants and animals can also change their geographical range / distribution as a result of climate change.  The woodlands blog has outlined some of the problems associated with various ‘alien or invasivespecies, for example,

Asian hornets, 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...

The 'spread' of the grey squirrel.

The ‘spread’ of the grey squirrel.

by Chris ~ 4 January, 2017 ~ comments welcome

DNA profiling has many uses, notably in criminal investigations.  It often allows the identification of a victim, or can 'tie' a suspect to the scene of a crime.  However, it does have other uses.  When applied to animal populations, it can give information as to the origins of the population, the extent of inbreeding / outbreeding etc.  Recently, Dr Lisa Signorile (Imperial College, London) has applied DNA technology to the grey squirrel populations of the U.K. and Italy. Read more...

Fennel, another umbellifer

Fennel, another umbellifer

by Chris ~ 22 January, 2016 ~ comments welcome

There are a number of plants that have ‘fennel’ in their name.   For example, :

  • Dog Fennel : Eupatorium capillifolium
  • Giant Fennel : Ferula communis
  • Fennel, Sweet Fennel : Foeniculum vulgare
  • Florence Fennel : Foeniculum vulgare azoricum
  • Hog's Fennel : Peucedanum officinale
  • Wild Fennel : Nigella arvensis
  • Bronze Fennel : Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'

However, it is the various forms of Foeniculum :-  Fennel, Sweet Fennel or Florence Fennel that are ‘best known’ through their use in cooking and / or the making of absinthe.  Such fennel plants are often garden escapes, but Foeniculum vulgare has naturalised, being particularly associated with disturbed ground. and the banks of streams and rivers.  Read more...

Spraying - herbicide and pesticide application

Spraying – herbicide and pesticide application

by Chris Langford ~ 14 January, 2016 ~ comments welcome

I recently undertook a Knapsack Sprayer PA1 and PA6a (NPTC) 2 day course. The course is aimed at anyone using, or purchasing pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and applying them with a knapsack sprayer on land. The courses cover the correct preparation of equipment as well as its maintenance, safe operation and calibration. The course was broken down into the following sections:- Read more...

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