Trees, we all take them for granted. During our winter, many tree species are just a collection of twigs and branches. Summer comes and the trees undergo a transformation.
Ask most people and they won’t know which species of tree they are looking at. Did you know for instance that we have over 30 species of tree native to the UK? Along with the natives, that have been here since the ice age, we have a wealth of other varieties. Either introduced by us or that have found their own way here. Yes it is a tree. But can you name it?
The tree most people can name by looking at the leaves is the good old English Oak; surprisingly this is not one of our native trees. After that, most people go a bit sketchy about names.
This time of year is a great time to get to know trees. Yes, I know there are no leaves to help, but at this time of year a great many of our trees are coming into flower. This makes identifying the different species a whole lot easier. Here is our quick guide to just a few of our trees in flower at this time of the year.
Hawthorn – Bark is brown shallow often spiralled ridges. In late April to May our hedges burst into white flowers, many of these will be Hawthorn. This is a relic from the Parliamentary Enclosures when we planted hundreds of thousands of miles of Hawthorn hedges. These species are easy to recognise because they have flowers that look like flowers.
Trees produce flowers in many other disguises. One such disguise is the Catkin. A Catkin is not a flower, you say. But trust me it is a flower, just a very strange looking flower. Look out for Goat Willow or pussy willow.
Hazel – Bark burnished bronze to pale brown. The Catkins found on hazel are the male flower; if you look very carefully on the same stem, you will find the small pink female flower.
Get to know your trees and your walks will never be the same again.