Trees mid April

Trees mid April

Trees photographed during one week in mid April in an urban setting in Central England. Maximum daytime temperature has been 19c with long sunny periods, no overnight frosts and hardly any rain. Ash is just coming into leaf. Oak leaves appeared around April 14th.

Domestic Apple April 17

Japanese Flowering Cherry April 21st

Rowan April 23rd

Whitebeam April 22nd

Bird Cherry April 21st

Broad-leaved Lime April 23rd

Hybrid Black Poplar female catkins April 21st

Ash tree leaves April 22nd

White Poplar April 22nd

Bluebells and Wild Garlic

Bluebells and Wild Garlic

Bluebells and Wild Garlic  are in flower now in many woodlands. The two species often grow in the same wood but hardly ever grow together. They form large clumps and out-compete one another. Wild garlic comes into leaf earlier than bluebell and so may have a  competitive advantage. Bluebells need more light than wild garlic and so like the dappled light of a woodland before the tree canopy shades the ground.  The presence of Bluebells and Wild Garlic is an indicator that the woodland has existed for a very long time.

The two species are members of different families. Bluebells are members of the Asparagus family which has 114 genera and 2900 species and includes Agave, Camassia, Hosta, Yucca,  Asparagus,  Hyacinth, Grape hyacinth, Bluebell, Squill and Star of Bethlehem. Wild Garlic is an allium ( similar to the garden alliums)  and is a  member of the  Daffodil family – which has1600 species including Alliums, Agapanthus,  Snowdrop, Snowflake, Nerine, Belladonna Lily and Daffodil. 

mid April central  England

Despite their beauty, bluebells, unlike wild garlic,  are poisonous and contain about 15 biologically active compounds to defend themselves from animals and insect pests. 

 

Bluebells are common in woods throughout Britain in spring. flowers are arranged on a one-sided, drooping shoot (raceme). The flower has 6 blue tepals , 6 Stamens and 1 style which is attached to a green superior ovary (see photo below).  Bees and other insects are attracted by nectar secreted from glands in the ovary wall.  Honey-bees steal nectar by pushing their tongues between the base of the tepals. 

This photo shows the superior, green ovary with an erect pale blue style, topped by a receptive stigma. Four of the 6 stamens are shown loaded with yellow pollen. 3 stamens are short and three long. The 6 blue tepals are fused into a tube. To avoid self-pollination it is thought that the  female stigma is fertile before the male anthers release pollen. 

mid May Lake District

The leaves and flowers of the Wild Garlic are edible.  Leaves appear in March and are best picked when young.  They give off a strong smell of garlic  when crushed. The plant, native to Britain, is also known as Bear leek, Bear’s garlic, Broad-leaved garlic, Buckrams, Ramsons and Wood garlic. In continental Europe, the bulbs are thought to be a favourite food of brown bears, hence the plant’s scientific name Allium ursinum. Ramsons is an old english word for garlic. 

 

Flowers in mid May

Ramsons Allium ursinum is a native wild flower found throughout Britain in damp woods and shady places. Also known as Wild Garlic. The flowers emerge from April to June. The flowers are arranged in the form of an umbel with multiple flowers coming from a single point. Each flower has a 3-lobed green ovary, 6 white tepals and 6 anthers. They are pollinated by small insects.

By mid-June the fruits have formed. 

The fruits contain seeds. Some farmers now collect the seeds and sell them to gardeners. In woodlands the plants usually spread by bulb division and so form large clumps but can regenerate from seed.

April trees and flowers

April trees and flowers

The abnormally sunny and warm weather has brought on flowering and leaf formation in many species. Here is a selection of trees and flowers noted in April 2020. In some tree species, such as the Weeping Willow, Dwarf Cherry and Japanese Flowering Cherries, the flowers form before the leaves but in others, such as the Horse Chestnut, the leaves emerge before the flower buds have opened.

Japanese Flowering Cherry ‘Amanogawa’

Weeping Willow Salix alba ‘Tristis’

Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum

Dwarf Cherry

Tulip ‘Apeldoorn’

Rosa ecae is an early-flowering rose native to Afghanistan and introduced to Britain in 1880.

Japanese Flowering Cherry ‘Kanzan’

Summer Snowflake Leucojum aestivum

Dwarf Cherry

Dwarf Cherry

A year in pictures in the life of a Dwarf Cherry tree located on a south-facing patio. Bought in 2018 it did not fruit in the first year, then in 2019 produced its first crop. A dwarf fruit tree is exactly like any other  fruit tree but its genome restricts its growth to less than 1.5m. It produces flowers, leaves and fruit exactly the same as any other fertile cherry tree. This particular variety of cherry is self-pollinating so does not need another similar tree nearby. Clearly these trees produces masses of flowers but only a small percentage develop into fruits. The flower and leaf buds are formed in the autumn and if they survive the winter,  the flowers emerge first in spring, closely followed by the leaves. The flowers came out slightly earlier this year than last. Last year by June the fruit had formed and was ripe by mid July. The leaves turned red by November and this year the buds were getting ready to open in March and it now in full flower.

 

April 16th 2019

June 1st 2019

July 13th 2019

The fruit is botanically classified as a drupe which consists of three of the ovary wall layers – an outer skin, a fleshy middle layer and an inner stony layer which surrounds the seed. Cherry, Blackthorn, Olive, Apricot, Peach and  Plum fruits are drupes. 

October 25th 2019

March 16th 2020

 

April 9th 2020

Hornbeam

Hornbeam

Hornbeam leaves and flowers are coming out now in early April. The Common Hornbeam is native to Southern England and is also found throughout Europe and Turkey. It is a medium-sized tree and can grow to 30m. It is common in hedgerows and woods and has been planted in many parks and gardens. Its wood is too hard to be used in general carpentry but has been used in hard wearing tasks such as chopping blocks and cog-wheels. In Epping Forest Hornbeams were pollarded to provide firewood. The tree can be confused with the Common Beech but its oval leaves are toothed not smooth-edged. The bark of the tree is very unusual. It is smooth, like the Beech, but is patterned with distinctive silver-grey vertical lines. Male catkins appear in spring and the bracts that held the fruit hang on the tree through winter.

common hornbeam tree in august

A mature Common Hornbeam in August.

common hornbeam leaf
The leaf has a very fine point at the end which is sometimes twisted over. The leaf is toothed unlike the Beech leaf which is smooth-edged.
common hornbeam bark
The bark has silvery-grey vertical patterns that are very distinctive.
common hornbeam male catkin
This close-up of a male catkin shows the red ‘anthers’ ready to split open and release pollen on to the wind in mid April. Trees bear both male and female catkins and so are Monoecious.
common hornbeam female catkin
Close-up of a female catkin in April. The flower is not quite ready to receive pollen. When it is, the flower ‘styles’ (shown arrowed) will turn red.
common hornbeam fruit
The fruit develops from the female catkin by August. The fruit is a nut. They are very small  and are difficult to see. Less than 1 cm long, they fall when ripe and are carried by the wind. They are eaten by mice and voles. The nuts are located at the junction between the pairs of 3-lobed ‘bracts’.
common hornbeam bracts in winter
After the nuts have dropped out the ‘bracts’ stay on the tree all winter. Photo taken in December.