Two False Cedars

Two False Cedars

Identification of two False Cedars with all images and text taken from the book Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Europe published by Reed New Holland in 2017, author Alan Birkett and ISBN 9781921517839.
Incense Cedar
Western Red Cedars

There are two similar trees named Cedars that are  not  “true” cedars; they get their name from having wood that smells similar to the “true” cedars – Cedar of Lebanon, Deodar and Atlas Cedar. The Incense Cedar, shown in the first photo, a conifer native to California, was introduced to Britain in 1853.  It is in fact a member of the Cypress Family. The scale-like leaves can be confused with the Lawson Cypress or Western Red Cedar but the cones are quite different. The leaves generate an aromatic scent when crushed. The tree is grown in large parks, gardens and by roads.

The Western Red Cedar, shown in the second photo, a conifer native to Western Canada and USA was introduced to Britain in 1853.  It can grow very rapidly and is widely planted in gardens, parks and forestry plantations. Its scale-like leaves are similar to the Lawson Cypress but its flask-shaped cones are different and can be confused only with the Incense Cedar. Its leaves emit a fruity smell when touched.

Incense Cedar scale leaves
Western Red Cedar scale leaves

The leaves of the Incense Cedar, shown in the first photo, are in the form of over-lapping scales that are close to the shoot until they reach the pointed tips. The scale-like leaves are longer and cling closer to the shoot than those of the Lawson Cypress or the Western Red Cedar. The scale-covered shoots of the Western Red Cedaer, shown in the second photo, hang down in flat sprays. The leaves emit a strong smell of pineapple if they are crushed between the fingers. This is a very good way of identifying a Western Red Cedar if you can’t see any cones.

Incense Cedar cones
Western Red Cedar cones

The cones of the Incense Cedar, shown in the first photo, hang down like small ornamental flasks. The Western Red Cedar has flask-like cones, shown in the second photo, but they are about half the size and stand upright. Photo taken in August.

Medlar

Medlar

Medlar Tree  with all images and text taken from the book Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Europe published by Reed New Holland in 2017, author Alan Birkett and ISBN 9781921517839

Medlar Tree in April
Medlar tree leaf

                                                                                                                     

The Medlar Mespilus germanica is a small tree native to the Black Sea coast of Turkey, through the Caucasus, to northern Iran. It has been cultivated in those regions for thousands of years. It was cultivated in England in Medieval times and was a commonly eaten fruit even in Victorian times but is now rarely eaten. It is not common but is found in old gardens and may have spread into woods in warmer areas. The first photo shows a Medlar tree in late April. The second photo shows that the leaves are long, narrow and wrinkly.

Medlar tree flower
Medlar tree fruit

The first photo shows a Medlar flower. They emerge after the leaves in May. Flowers have 5 white petals, white stamens and yellow/brown anthers. Behind the flower are 5 green sepals, which become prominent when the fruit is formed. The second photo, taken in September, shows a Medlar fruit. It looks like a brown apple and is technically a pome, like the apple, but it has long sepals that surround an open pit.  The fruit is hard and bitter until it ripens as a result of exposure to frost or having been kept for a long time. This process is known as bletting. The interior then looks rotten, like a pulp, but is perfectly edible. It can be eaten raw or used to make jelly or curds. In Shakepeare’s time the term medlar was used to refer to something that was rotten inside.

Spindle Tree in Autumn

Spindle Tree in Autumn

Spindle Tree in Autumn with all images and text taken from the book Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Europe published by Reed New Holland in 2017, author Alan Birkett and ISBN 9781921517839
Spindle Tree in autumn
Spindle Tree fruit in autumn

                                                                                                                     

The Spindle Euonymous europaeus is a bushy tree native to Europe, including Britain, Turkey and the Caucasus. The first photo shows a Spindle tree in a churchyard in September. The second photo shows the fruit in September. The Spindle is common in hedges and woods on lime-rich soils and has been planted in many gardens. Its wood is hard and fine-grained and was used to make spindles for wool spinning. The small white flowers appear in May. It has a very unusual looking fruit, which is in the form of orange berries in a 4-lobed pink capsule. The leaves are similar to Blackthorn but paired and opposite. It is a member of the Euonymus genus, from which a huge number of ornamental garden plants have been developed. 

Spindle Tree fruit
Spindle Tree leaves
The first photo shows the unusual fruits in autumn. The second photo shows that the leaves are Blackthorn-shaped but arranged opposite one another on the shoot. Blackthorn leaves are alternate.