Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Just 5 Trees (Part2) : The Trees

Following on from the Introduction in Part 1, this post is essentially the "Just 5 Trees" booklet and provides a little information of some common trees. Of course, it's not even close to being comprehensive, but hopefully you should be able to spot most of these trees (except for the Tulip tree which is a bit of a rarity outside of parks and arboretums), especially if you live in an urban environment.

The name of this tree is derived from the Norse word “buche” which means “book”, this is because thin sheets of wood from Beech trees was used as paper.

Leaves : Pointed oval, light green and fringed in gossamer when young but soon become dark green and lose their hairs.
Noticeably wavy appearance

Bark : Smooth and grey, often covered in algae.

When planted singly, forms an impressive tree, up to 40m tall and with a domed shape. Often the shade is such that nothing grows under the tree.

The wood from the Beech tree is often used for furniture. Also, because it has no smell or taste, it is often used for children's toys or in direct contact with food.

Beech trees are relatively short lived and do not usually make it past 250 years.

Photos of a leaf and the bark from this tree are shown below:

Silver Birch
An easy tree to identify because of its white and black bark, and also because of its drooping twigs.

Leaves : Small, oval, toothed and pointed

Bark : White, scaly and with black patches

A fast growing tree that can reach up to over 20m in height.

The timber of Birches is of little commercial value in Britain at present although in Scandinavia, where the trees are larger and straighter, the wood is used for furniture and when peeling the veneers, for use in Birch plywood. In Britain, the smaller trees are used for turnery to produce broomheads, tool handles and many kinds of small wooden objects.

Silver Birch trees are relatively short lived and do not usually make it past 100 years of age

Tulip Tree
A very common tree in Eastern Forests of the US, the Tulip Tree has beautiful and usual foliage. In the UK most usually seen specially planted in arboretums and parks.

Leaves : Very characteristic glossy leaves end in a V-shaped notch

Bark : Cracked bark on a wide trunk.

The tree has attractive flowers in summer.

Tulip Tree Leaf:

Tulip tree Flowers:

Common Lime
A tall, beautiful tree that is often planted in avenues and can reach over 25m in height. It originated as a hybrid between the large-leaved and small-leaved lime. Tolerant of pollution in towns.

Leaves : Heart shaped, toothed

Bark : Ridges and cracked, with prominent bosses

The flowers are arranged in hanging groups of 4-10 on a long stalk with a linear, light green, leaf-like bract attached above.

The stringy inner bark called 'bass' was once used to make mats, ropes and even fishing nets, whilst the wood is still used for carving and making musical instruments. Grinley Gibbons did most of his flower and figure carvings for St. Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle, and Chatsworth in Lime wood.

Lime Tree Leaf:

Lime Tree Bark:

Lime Tree. . .er. . .Trees:

London Plane Tree
A very common city tree, the London Plane has proved without equal in surviving in the poor soils and air pollution that blight towns. This is a big achievement when you consider the “pea souper” smogs that were present in town 50-60 years ago.

Leaves : Lobed and toothed

Bark : Peels off in large patches on young trees & branches to reveal very characteristic areas of creamy white or pale yellow. Trunk bases have a less attractive burred appearance.

The shade of the London Plane Tree is often not too dense, allowing a lovely play of light and shade on a sunny day. A couple of 300 year old trees have now reached a height of about 45 meters in Great Britain. And since these trees are still full of vigour, it is likely that the London Plane may well become the biggest tree in Southern Britain in the future.

The wood of the Plane is quite tough, reasonably hard, difficult to split and fine grained. It is useful for indoor joinery; light internal construction work; furniture; cabinet making; veneering and inlay work, because of its attractive appearance and because it can be brought to a fine finish, as well as taking a high polish.

Two leaves from the same London Plane Tree:

Bark showing the typical "camouflage" pattern:

Burred bark at the base of a London Plane Tree:

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