Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Winter trees

I was lucky enough to be leading BSBI field meeting no. 1 for 2014 on Sunday. The weather forecast went from good(ish) to bad, and nine participants turned up at 10am in the pouring rain. Luckily it turned out rather better than anticipated, and apart from a few showers much of the day was dry. 

Due to interest from the participants we started by looking at a range of conifers planted on the site including some Abies species which took us a bit by surprise. After some keying out, I believe that we found Abies concolor, Colorado white-fir and Abies alba, European silver-fir. My photographs are far from perfect, but Abies concolor was very distinctive with large broad needles with stomata on both sides, not parted above but curled round and upwards. Abies alba has leaves which are clearly parted above and below the shoot, dark green above but with two lines of white stomata below. Less neat and less pleasantly fragrant than Abies grandis, grand fir, which was also seen. 
Abies concolor, Colorado white-fir
Abies alba, European silver-fir
After walking up to the top of the site via various conifer species, we took a lunch and hot tea-break and took advantage of the shelter to look at some additional specimens and keys.
Lunch break in Castle Wood. Photo with thanks to Barbara Allen
After lunch we walked around the upper part of the wood, finding a good range of broadleaved species to look at in winter. Various members of the group also contributed information on organisms including bryophyes, lichens, fungi, woodlice and snails, so a very interesting afternoon was had. 

The bluebells are starting to appear on the ground through the beech leaves, so spring must be on its way - nearly time for some serious recording again!

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