Mulberries

Mulberries

There are two Mulberry species found in Britain, the Black Mulberry Morus nigra and the White Mulberry Morus alba. The Black Mulberry, native to Southwest Asia, was probably introduced to Britain in about 1500. It has been cultivated for centuries for its edible fruit and has been planted in many cottage gardens, formal gardens and parks. The fruit of the Black Mulberry is sweet and juicy in late summer. The White Mulberry which is  native to China  was introduced to Britain in the 16th century. It is the favourite food plant of the silkworm and is cultivated on a large scale in China and other parts of the World. It is rare in Britain but is found in a few gardens in warmer areas. Both species have unisexual flowers and may be monoecious (male and female on the same tree) or dioecious (male and female on different trees). Male flowers  are on catkins.  

Black Mulberry leaf

The Black Mulberry leaf is large and heart shaped.

White Mulberry leaf

Some White Mulberry leaves are heart shaped, some have lobes.

Black Mulberry flower cluster

Black Mulberry female flower cluster in early July. Individual flowers each have a style with a pair of stigmas on the end. Pollination occurs when the stigmas collect male pollen floating in the wind.

White Mulberry flower cluster

White Mulberry female flower cluster in June. 

Black Mulberry fruit

The Black Mulberry fruit turns red at the end of July. This type of fruit is known as a multiple fruit because it consists of a number of drupes fused together to make one big fruit. The fruit is black by August or September.

White Mulberry fruit

 White Mulberry fruit at the end of July. 

Lime Tree Flowers

Lime Tree Flowers

There are three species of Lime that flower in June and July. The Broad-leaved Lime is native to Europe and Western Asia. It was probably introduced to Britain but now grows naturally in the lime rich soils such as those of the Wye Valley and parts of the Pennines. It flowers in June. The Small-leaved Lime is native to Europe, including Britain. It grows naturally in old woods and hedges in England and Wales as far north as the Lake District and some varieties have been planted in  gardens and streets. It flowers in July. The Common Lime is a natural hybrid of the Broad-leaved Lime and the Small-leaved Lime and grows across Europe wherever these two are present. In Britain it has been planted everywhere in streets, parks, churchyards and formal gardens. The Common Lime flowers after the Broad-leaved Lime, usually in July.

Lime tree flowers and fruit are always attached to a pale green, odd-shaped leaf called a bract. The number of flowers and fruit per bract varies between Lime species but they are all arranged in a branched structure called a cyme. 

Lime trees do not produce the citrus fruits we know as limes. They come from a small tree with the scientific name Citrus aurantifolia, which originates in Southeast Asia. The word lime, as used for trees in Britain is believed to come from the Old English word lind.

The Broad-leaved lime is the first lime to come into flower, usually in June. This photograph was taken on June 4th. The flower has both male and female parts. The male anthers are yellow, the female stigma and ovary are white.

The fruit of the Broad-leaved lime is strongly ribbed. The 5 ribs can easily be seen by mid September.

The flowers of the Small-leaved Lime stick out at all angles from the bract, whereas on other limes they hang down. Some flowers come out at in early July. There are from 5-11 per bract. 

Flowers of the Small-leaved Lime develop into fruit by mid August

Flowers of the Common Lime come out in July. Each flower has a white Stigma, Style and Ovary, which is surrounded by yellow or brown anthers. 

Fruit of the Common Lime at the end of July. There are 4 to 10 per bract. The fruit are not ribbed like Broad-leaved Lime fruit.

Elder

Elder

                                                                                                                               

The Elder Sambucus nigra is a shrub or small tree found in hedgerows and woods throughout Britain. It is also native to Europe, North Africa and south-west Asia. The fruit is used to make wine and has many medicinal uses, but the seeds and other plant parts are toxic. It is easily recognised in spring when it bears flat plates of white flowers and in autumn from its black berries. In winter it has distinctive branches with big purple buds.

 

Elder in flower

An Elder Shrub in mid June

Elder flower cluster

The flowers are in flat-topped clusters called compound  cymes by botanists.  Photo taken at the end of June.

Elder pinnate leaf

There are 5 to 7 tooth-edged leaflets on each leaf. This is a pinnate leaf.

Elder fruit

Fruit in late September. The complexity of the branching system can be seen here.

 

Plane Tree Flowers

Plane Tree Flowers

The London Plane (Platanus x hispanica) is probably a hybrid between the Oriental Plane and the American Sycamore, first created in Spain or southern France in about 1650. It was introduced to Britain in about 1680. It is now common in large gardens and parks and very common on city streets where it has proved resistant to pollution.  The flowers and  fruit are unusual. The tree is monoecious and has globular male and female flower heads on separate catkins.

London plane leaf

The leaf is large and has 5 main pointed lobes like a Maple. Each lobe has several teeth.

London Plane bark

The bark is unmistakeable, yellow patches remain after large brown flakes fall off. This is one factor which enables Plane trees to survive highly polluted urban environments. Soot blocks the breathing pores located in bark but by shedding polluted bark the tree avoids this problem.

London Plane female flowers

Close-up of the female flowers in May. Each sphere is made up of many individual flowers. Each female flower has 6 to 9 crimson stigmas.  Each stigma is linked by a style to an ovary which will develop into a single seed. 

London Plane male flowers

Male flowers shedding yellow pollen in May.

London Plane fruit

The fruit of the London Plane is a dense ball of individual fruits called achenes. Each achene consists of one seed with a style at the top and multiple hairs attached at the base. The styles stick out in this close-up photo. The hairs, which aid wind dispersal, are inside the ball at this stage. Photo taken in December. The seeds are dispersed in the following spring or early summer.

London Plane seeds

Seeds about to be dispersed from last year’s fruit in spring. The seeds are now hidden by the hairs which have elongated since December. Like dandelion seeds they are dispersed by the wind.