Tuesday, 24 May 2016

R&D - Tree Facts and Uses

During the three day tour we identified 21 indiginous Tree Species and a few immigrants.

Common Juniper - Juniperus communis

The ripe cones (berries) are collected to provide the flavouring for gin and in cooking, and are also eaten by birds.

The aromatic wood is used for smoking food and for wood carving.

Downy Birch - Betula pubescans

The felled timber is good for firewood and wood-turning. The leaves are the food plant for large numbers of insect species, many moths among them. A wide range of soil fungi are associated with Downy Birch Woodland. In the Scottish Highlands, the Hoof Fungus, Fomes fomentarius, a tough bracket fungus, is often found growing on stumps and trunks. The Hoof Fungus, when dried can be lit and will smoulder throughout the day, for firelighting.

Silver Birch - Betula pendula

Popular as firewood. Silver Birch Woodland is rich in fungi - exclusive SB fungi include - Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria, Brown Birch Bolete Leccinum scabrum, Wooly Milk Cup Lactarius torminosis.

Scots Pine - Pinus sylvestris

A timber-tree used for props, telegraph poles, building, furniture, chipboard and paper-pulp.
Native to Scotland. A number of wildlife species can only survive in Scots Pine plantations - eg. the Scottish Crossbill, whose bill adapted to extract Scots Pine seeds from the cones, and is found nowhere else in the world. Other Scots Pine wildlife includes, Crested Tit, Capercaillie, Red Squirrel and Pine Marten.
Elsewhere in UK, it has been planted - it often colonises heathland and is viewed as an unwelcome invader, as open heathland is a restricted and threatened habitat.

Common Alder - Alnus glutinosa

A useful timber for wet situations - so used for pier pilings, lock gates, and making clogs. The best source of charcoal for gunpowder. Growing Alders help stabilise river banks and prevent erosion, with their tough roots. The leaves are  the food plant for many insects, particularly the larvae of moths.

Hazel - Corylus avellana

Really important for woodland wildlife due to edible leaves and fruits - especially the dormouse. Often coppiced to provide poles for a variety of uses.  Many hazels reach well past their natural age through constant re-coppicing - leading to regeneration.

Bird Cherry - Prunus padus

Thrushes consume the fruits in summer and autumn - but they're bitter to humans.

The bark was used to make a restorative infusion for stomach upsets and as a remedy for other digestive ailments.

The timber is hard and reddish, used for carving and turning.

Goat Willow - Salix caprea

Also known as Pussy Willow. Crucial for insect larvae - esp the Lepidoptera who feed on the leaves, while other moth larvae feed on the wood, living inside twigs and trunk.

Goat willow timber is soft and yellow in colour. Unlike most willows, its brittle twigs are not suitable for weaving, but traditional uses for its wood included clothes pegs, while the foliage was used as a winter feed for cattle. The wood also burns well and makes a good fuel.
Traditionally willows were used to relieve pain, and the painkiller Asprin is derived from salicin, a compound found in the bark of all Salix species.

Wych Elm - Ulmus glabra

Elm wood is strong and durable with a tight-twisted grain, and is resistant to water. It has been used in decorative turning, and to make boats and boat parts, furniture, wheel hubs, wooden water pipes, floorboards and coffins.

Rowan - Sorbus aucuparia

The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of a number of moths, including the larger Welsh wave and autumn green carpet. Caterpillars of the apple fruit moth feed on the berries.
Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees, while the berries are a rich source of autumn food for birds, especially the blackbird, mistle thrush, redstart, redwing, song thrush, fieldfare and waxwing.
 The wood is strong, hard and tough, but not durable. It is sometimes used in turnery, furniture, craftwork and engraving. Rowan berries are edible to humans - they are sour but rich in vitamin C, and can be used to make a jelly to accompany meats.

Sessile Oak - Quercus petraea

Oak trees support more wildlife than any other native trees. They provide a habitat for more than 280 species of insect, which provides food for birds and other predators. The bark also provides a habitat for mosses, lichens and liverworts, and deadwood cavities for nesting birds and roosting bats. The acorns are eaten by a number of birds and mammals including the jay, badger and red squirrel. 
Flower and leaf buds of English oak and sessile oak are the foodplants of the caterpillars of purple hairstreak butterflies. The soft leaves break down with ease in autumn and form a rich leaf mould beneath the tree, supporting beetles and numerous fungi, such as the oakbug milkcap.

Oak has been a prized hardwood timber for thousands of years, was the primary ship building material until the mid-19th century and remains a popular wood for architectural beams. Traditionally the leaves, bark and acorns were believed to heal many medical ailments including diarrhoea, inflammation and kidney stones. Modern uses of English oak include flooring, wine barrels and firewood. Historically humans collected acorns and processed them into flour for bread making.

Ash - Fraxinus excelsior

Ash woodlands have airy canopy, allowing rich ground flora underneath - especially bluebells.

Ash timber is white, durable and easily worked - popular for farm implements and furniture. Inherent strength is perfect for handles of picks, spades and hammers. Excellent firewood and charcoal.

English (Pedunculate) Oak - Quercus robur

The soft leaves of English oaks breakdown with ease in autumn and form a rich leaf mould beneath the tree, supporting invertebrates, such as the stag beetle, and numerous fungi, like the oakbug milkcap. Even in death the English oak supports life in the form of wood-boring fungi and beetle larvae.

Many timber uses - see Sessile Oak. Additionally, Tannin found in the bark has been used to tan leather since at least Roman times.

Hawthorn - Crataegus monogyna

Hybridises easily. Foodstuff of the Lappet Moth. Berries eaten by host of birds and rodents.
Common component of hedgerows and can be used to create a stockproof barrier.
It can be used in turnery and engraving, and was used to make veneers and cabinets, as well as boxes, tool handles and boat parts. It also makes good firewood and charcoal, and has a reputation for burning at high temperatures.
The haws can be eaten raw but may cause mild stomach upset. They are most commonly used to make jellies, wines and ketchups.

Yew - Taxus baccata

Very poisonous to humans and livestock. Yew trees contain the highly poisonous taxane alkaloids that have been developed as anti-cancer drugs. Eating just a few leaves can make a small child severely ill and fatalities have occurred. All parts of the tree are poisonous, with the exception of the bright red arils. The black seeds inside them should not be eaten as they contain poisonous alkaloids. The fruit is eaten by birds such as the blackbird, mistle thrush, song thrush and fieldfare, and small mammals such as squirrels and dormice. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of the satin beauty moth.

Timber can be used for decorative veneer - and was used to make longbows. One of the world's oldest surviving wooden artifacts is a yew spear head, found in 1911 at Clacton-on-sea, in Essex, UK. It is estimated to be about 450,000 years old.

Whitebeam - Sorbus aria

Whitebeam timber is fine-grained, hard and white. Traditional uses included wood-turning and fine joinery, including chairs, beams, and before cast iron was widely available, cogs and wheels in machinery.

Wild Cherry - Prunus avium

Traditionally cherries were planted for their fruit and wood, which was used for making cask hoops and vine poles. The sticky resin was thought to promote a good complexion and eyesight, and help to cure coughs.
These days cherry wood is used to make decorative veneers and furniture. The wood is hard, strong and honey-coloured, and can be polished to a good shiny brown colour. Wild cherry has many cultivars and is a popular ornamental tree in gardens. The wood burns well and produces a sweetly scented smoke, similar to the scent of its flowers.

Common Lime - Tilia x europaea

Lime wood is soft and light, white-yellow and finely textured. It is easy to work and often used in turnery, carving and furniture making. Lime bark was traditionally used to make rope, and lime flowers were considered a valuable source of food for honey bees. The wood does not warp and is still used today to make sounding boards and piano keys. Limes can be coppiced and used for fuel,  hop-poles, bean-sticks, cups, ladles, bowls and even Morris dancing sticks. During the war lime blossom was used to make a soothing tea.

Common Beech - Fagus sylvatica

Native truffle fungi grow in beech woods. These fungi are ectomycorrhizal, which means they help the host tree obtain nutrients in exchange for some of the sugar the tree produces through photosynthesis.

Beech timber is used for a variety of purposes, including fuel, furniture, cooking utensils, tool handles and sports equipment. The wood burns well and was traditionally used to smoke herring. The edible nuts, or masts, were once used to feed pigs, and in France they are still sometimes roasted and used as a coffee substitute. 

Hornbeam - Carpinus betulus

Hornbeam timber is a pale creamy white with a flecked grain. It is extremely hard and strong, and so is mainly used for furniture and flooring. Traditional used for the wood included ox-yokes (a wooden beam fitted across the shoulders of an ox to enable it to pull a cart), butchers' chopping blocks and cogs for windmills and water mills. It was also coppiced and pollarded for poles.
Hornbeam burns well and makes good firewood and charcoal.

Box  - Buxus sempervirens

It is used for wood engraving and to make violin pegs and musical instruments.
All parts of the tree are toxic and may irritate the skin or cause a stomach upset if ingested.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Tree Identification

ID course with Jerry Dicker.
13th - 15th June

Notes and documentation: 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

R&D - Big Tree Country: Introduction to Tree Identification with Jerry Dicker

A 3 day course in basic identifying and understanding trees, undertaken just north of Perth Scotland, delivered by Jerry Dicker in conjunction with the Field Studies Council - FSC

Field Studies Council, FSC, is an environmental education charity providing informative and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, and understand the environment.
FSC is an independent charity receiving no core revenue funding from statutory sources and we therefore rely on fees paid by our visitors and on the generosity of donors, trust funds and grant bodies to finance our activities.
FSC believes that the more we understand about and take inspiration from the world around us the more we can appreciate its needs and protect its diversity and beauty for future generations.