Autumn's a great time to look at the trees, so I took Cate out for a walk to gather leaves and the like. I've never been much of an expert on trees, basically being limited to oak and conker. So when Cate successfully identified an oak branch I decided it was time to find out a bit more, if only to keep myself ahead.
Here are some of the trees and seeds that we found on our walk around our estate.
Let's start with the easy one. The oak tree has wiggly leaves. It grows acorns, which sit in little cups. The acorns start off light green, but turn to brown and fall out of the cup in autumn. Find out more.
The horse chestnut tree is easy to spot as well. It has great big leaves which are like hands with five long fingers. This tree is known well to all boys in Scotland as it is the source of the conker. Conkers are shiny, brown nuts which grow inside a soft, green, jaggy shell. The shell is easily split open and the conker is then traditionally kept in the airing cupboard overnight to harden it, with the hope that it will become at least a "sixer". Find out more.
The sycamore tree is from the maple family, which is why the leaves look a bit like maple leaves. They have five points, with the two outside ones being smaller. Its seeds grow in pairs, and when they fall off their shape makes them spin round as they float to the ground. This is why they're odten called helicopters. Find out more.
For ages I've wondered what these little, prickly seed cases were which littered our garden every autumn. At last, I've found out they're from the beech tree. This tree has an oval shaped, shiny leaf, and produces these beech nuts. They open up to spill out the seeds. Find out more.
The ash tree has quite a light coloured bark, and long, thin leaves which stick out in opposing pairs along the stem. When it produces seeds these hang in little bunches. They are roughly similar to the helicopters on the sycamore tree and are known as ash keys. Find out more.
The hawthorn has distinctive leaves, which are a bit like the oak leaves, but with less wiggly bits, which are at more of an angle. It grows red berries in the autumn, which makes it easier to spot. Find out more.
This is a tree I'd never heard of. There's one near the swing park, and it grows little pine cone style things, and it's this really which prompted me to try and find out a bit more about trees. The little pine cone things are the female seed pods, while the male equivalent are longer and thinner. Find out more.
Getting into totally unheard-of territory here. I found this tree with large, tough leaves, which are a bit furry underneath, and large bunches of red berries on it. It took me ages to find out what it was, but apparently it's a whitebeam. Beam is an olden term for tree, and this tree is referred to as being white because in the spring the furry part of the leaves make the tree look like it's in blossom. Find out more.
Here's another one I found and took a while to identify. It has leaves with a serated edge, and grows its seeds in a kind of cluster arrangement. Find out more.
Well, it's nearly a year later, and we're getting quite good at spotting the trees now. Which means that we've noticed a few that we're not sure about. This one was a bit confusing, as it looks similar to the ash, with pairs of thin leaves, but the leaves on this tree have saw-tooth edges. At the end of summer though, all became clear, when bunches of red berries appeared. It was a rowan. Find out more.
The willow was a bit easier to spot. It has long, thin leaves which droop down making the tree look a bit like a fountain. Hence the name of one type of willow: the weeping willow. Find out more.
Here's another tree that started sprouting catkins in the summer. It obviously wasn't an alder, as the catkins were a bit different and the leaves were diamond shaped. The big clue, though, is the silver coloured bark, with black patches, which makes the silver birch easy to spot. Find out more.
Well, that's all for now. I'll try to see if I can still recognise these trees once the seeds have fallen, and maybe get some more pictures in the spring.