Saturday, 4 April 2015

Decidulation in the National Arboretum

Rob, a friend who is a guide at the National Arboretum, had wondered what to do on Good Friday and decided that leading a tour to a less visited part of the premises would be a good idea.  It was primarily for the Friends of the Arboretum but we three (yes, the Arboretum is pet-friendly) were allowed to go, in the expectation that we might consider the possibility of becoming Friends.  That expectation will become a reality shortly.

It was definitely Autumn with low cloud and wood smoke shutting down the view.
While the group was gathering we could see the acorn sculpture (complete with kids climbing up inside) and Wide Brown Land.
The approximate route we followed is shown as red dashes on this extract of the map of the Arboretum.
One of the objectives of the walk was to visit the less visitor-utilised areas of the Arboretum and thus it could be sub-titled a walk on the wild side.  The link gives you - after the inevitable advert - a chance to listen to the work of Lou Reed.  It also gave a look at the deciduous trees shutting down for Autumn (a process that could be termed decidulation or deciduosity).  

The first tree seen was this lime tree (Tilia cordata), also known as the linden a popular street tree in Europe - perhaps linking to the name of Harry Lime?  It is definitely decidulating.  
This is a fine example of the stem/trunk of a Silk Floss tree (Ceiba speciosa).
 This is the fruit of the Japanese Snowbell.
This is the hexagonal stem of the Yunnan poplar (Populus yunnanensis).  That doesn't appear on the map as the trees were only planted to overcome a shortfall in Euphrates Poplar (Populus euphratica).
The English Oak (Quercus robur) had some acorns (but were a little small to accommodate a furtive King).
 A close-up of the acorn, under the spiffy image rule.
I can't remember which tree this spiders nest was found in.  The lady herself was not in a position to be photographed but here is her larder.  A large beetle to the right, a European wasp center and a smaller beetle below it.
 A Japanese Zelcova (Zelcova serrata) had definitely decidualised with some very appealing colours.
 In his research for this talk Rob had found that they are used for street plantings in the nearby suburb of Weston: in fact one was planted right outside their former house, and I had parked under it many times!

My final image is another fruit, of a Pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum)
All in all an excellent walk.  Interesting subject matter and well researched.  Other participants - apparently including several other guides - added greatly to the enjoyment of the event.  (Especially those who patted Tammy.)

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