Nature Table No.7. Batsford Bounty

Keeping your eyes trained downwards can lead to some great finds, especially at this time of year. A September forage at Batsford Arboretum turned up some really interesting ‘litter’ !

From Left to right:- Turkey Oak,Indian Horse Chestnut,Coast Redwood,Beech,Lebanon Oak, Alder, Giant Sequoia,Knopper Oak Gall.

I love Turkey Oaks because of their fantastic acorn cups.

The Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) was introduced to Britain in 1735. It did not appear in the wild until 1905. It has rapidly colonised some areas and displaced native oaks.

Interestingly the acorns mature 18 months after pollination.

Turkey Oak is host to a gall forming wasp Andricus quercuscalicis ( I am making a separate post about this wasp and gall because it’s life cycle is interesting)

These tiny cones have surprising offspring -The Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

These are the tallest trees ever recorded at 116M (20M taller than the Statue of Liberty)

The seeds are the size of an oatmeal flake !

Next up another giant, the Giant Sequoia cones (Sequoiadodendron giganteum)

This diagram shows both of these cones clearly.

The Giant Sequoia is the most massive tree in the world. The oldest Giant Sequoia dated from its trunk rings was 3,200 years old.

The largest recorded tree is called General Sherman and has a trunk diameter of 35 feet. It is 2000 years old !!

The bark of both these trees is really interesting, it is very fibrous and very high in tannins ( which gives it the red colour)

This bark is :-

  • resistant to fungus
    Resistant to insect infestation.
    Insulating against fire protecting the living wood inside.
  • There is evidence that these ancient trees have survived many fires over 20-30 centuries.
  • They are amazing in so many ways.
  • The other unusual tree on the nature table is the Indian Horse Chestnut .(Aesculus indica)
  • Unlike the more common Horse Chestnut we usually see , European (Aesculus hippocastatum) the fruits on this tree are smooth and look a lot like a woody fig.
  • In India the leaves are used as fodder for cattle . The seeds are ground to make a bitter flour called tattawakher , mixed with wheat flour to make chapatis , halwa a sweet meat and sometimes as a porridge called Dalia in fasting periods.
  • It’s amazing the journey across the globe you can have in an hours stroll around the arboretum!

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