Thursday, March 01, 2018

first leaves

First hazel leaves, Swindon, February 28th 2018 

Walking in the wood again, yesterday (28th Feb 2018). An agreeable sprinkling of snow, and crispness in the air, but it's always warmer among the trees. (Today, however, it has turned arctic.)

First hawthorn leaves, Swindon 28th February 2018

Leafing Elder sapling, Swindon, 28th February 2018

Grey Poplar (Populus x canescens)

Some of the wood's most important activity can't be seen down here at ground level. Far above my head, the Grey Poplar (Populus x canescens) is swelling with new catkins.

I scratched about for ages hoping to find a budding twig that had been blown down. Then I remembered that the woodcutters had been here in January. Sure enough I found where they had cut down a poplar and left some heaps of brushwood.

Woodcutting piles

The twigs were bursting with catkins so I snapped off a twig and took it indoors and plonked it in a vase of water, intending to watch the catkins emerge, which they very quickly do once inside. (In Sweden, people do this with birch sprigs; it gives them a glimpse of greenery long before they see any outside.)

Opening catkins of Grey Poplar

Today the catkins are already beginning to lengthen and reveal the red anthers. These are the male flowers. The species is dioecious. I'll see if I can find a female tree but they're said to be less frequent.

More information and better images here:

The noisiest tree in the wood

I also tracked down the source of the creaking in this part of the wood. It's a Grey Poplar with a big split down the middle. Both halves are alive and their branches ascend high into the canopy. Even the slightest breeze pulls at those giant levers and makes the tree talk.

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