For our deciduous trees that have spent the winter with bare branches; the race has started to open the buds, expand the leaves and harvest the light to start into growth again. At this time different trees are at different stages in this process and it is a good time when walking through woodlands to take a look at the different species and their characteristic buds. A selection are shown here, photographed a few days ago while on such a walk in Bathing House and Hopeward Woods
Many of these trees can be found in other woods around Dalgety Bay and not all the trees you can see on a walk are included in the brief guide below. If you are using Dalgety Bay’s woods for your walks you might like to see how many of these examples you can find and you could perhaps compete with family members who walk with you to see who can first identify the different tree species. Remember, there will be trees not in this selection, and please remember social distancing when taking your daily walk.
For anyone interested in finding some of the trees featured in this note, there is also a 3 page pdf which you can print off and take with you on a walk. Unfortunately it cannot be uploaded to the Blog, or added to a Facebook page, so if you would like one then please request it from me at email@example.com
These understory shrubs are already coming into leaf to capture some of the light before the taller trees come into leaf and puts them in the shade.
The fat buds of Rowan are surprisingly hairy at this stage which makes them very soft to the touch. The dense hairs are probably to deter leaf eaters. Not all Rowns are at this stage yet, there is quite a bit of variation in when the different trees come into leaf and then into flower. This is partly due to differences in shelter and local climate, but as this also occurs with some trees that are side by side it is also in some cases a reflection of the different sources of the trees that have been planted over the years with different genetics controlling timing of development.
Hawthorn is another shrub that shows considerable variation in when they come into leaf and in some locations there are already some that have been in leaf for a few weeks. As with the Rowan this is partly local climate differences and partly genetic reflecting the origins of the planted trees. The one in the photo is of one that was planted by P7 pupils in 2015.
None of the Oaks I have seen have yet to open their leaves. The buds have swollen, but it will be a while before the leaves emerge and, like Rowan and Hawthorn, there is variation in the timing of leaf burst. This is one of the easy ones to identify from the appearance of the buds, but there are not so many to find in our woods, though this will change as the oaks planted by P7 children both in 2015 and this year, as well as some planted by our volunteers, grow and become more obvious.
Ash have very distinctive black buds. They are, at least in our woodlands, the last to come into leaf. The taller trees also suffer from Wood Pigeons eating the soft leaves as they first emerge.
The fat green tinged buds of Sycamore will soon all be open and the large light excluding leaves will expand to shade out many of the plants that grow on the woodland floor.
The thin twigs of Hazel are hard to distinguish from the other common tree in the woods, Wych Elm. Easier to identify when there are the distinctive catkins on the bush. These are the male flowers of the tree and produce lots of pollen to blow on the wind and find a female Hazel flower.
Wych Elm is also in flower at the moment and some of the trees have so many flowers they give the tree a pinkish green colouration at a distance.
The flowers are only seen on the older trees, but some branches are close enough to the path to allow you to see what they look like. Unlike the Hazel which has male and femaly flowers in different places on a branch, Wych Elm
have them in the same flower but like the Hazel they are wind pollinated.
The Wych in the name has no connection to witches, rather it is a derivation of an old English word for supple, a reference to the use of the wood in the making of the powerful longbow. They used to be much commoner but they too are susceptible to Dutch Elm disease that so devastated the common Elm, so we are lucky to have them as part of our woodland.