The Oak at the Gate of the Dead and the Duelling Oak

Ash at treeblog used his recent trip to the sad remains of the UK’s second biggest girthed sessile oak to visit two other large and ancient oaks in the same area:

Once I’d seen all there was to see of the uprooted Pontfadog Oak, I got back in the car and headed for home. But only a couple of miles down the road I pulled over to visit two more giant oaks: the Oak at the Gate of the Dead and the Duelling Oak. Both of these veterans grow within a stone’s throw of one another (and right close to the Wales-England border), beside the road linking Pontfadog with Chirk.

The Oak at the Gate of the Dead (Derwen Adwy’r Meirwon in Welsh) is famous, at least locally, for growing at the Pass of the Graves (Adwy’r Beddau). This is thought to be the place where in 1165, during the Battle of Crogen, the forces of Henry II of England were ambushed by the Welsh under Owain Gwynedd.

How forests fight back against global warming with chemical warfare

A new study finds that the terpenes, isoprenes and other chemicals that trees release into the atmosphere help ameliorate the worst effects of global warming. Climate News Network has the story.

The warmer the weather, the greater the likelihood that gas emissions from plants would create conditions for the formation of clouds, which in turn would reflect more sunlight back into space, and thus help damp down global warming.

That is the good news. The not-so-good news is that these plant gas emissions won’t make a great deal of difference – on a global scale they might counter about 1 percent of global warming.

On a regional scale, however, the effect might be much greater: in heavily forested areas – Finland, Siberia and Canada, for instance – where human emissions of aerosols are anyway relatively slight, plant gas releases might counter as much as 30 percent of warming.

The New Sylva

Authors Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet have a blog following the progress of their work in progress, The New Sylva. This aims to be an updated version of John Evelyn‘s famous work seventeenth century survey of British trees Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber :

Three hundred and fifty years after Evelyn first published his tour de force, we again realise that there is an important if not unprecedented role for trees, forests and timber in our lives, and with this, an imperative need to refresh our view. As society continues to experience increasing environmental change, trees will become more valued and needed, not only as beautiful plants shaping our landscapes and city parks, affirming our sense of place and heritage, but also as our most green renewable resource, and one of our most important environmental protectors. Trees provide carbon-lean products for construction, heat and energy, while at the same time they can control flooding, soil erosion, and reduce the destructive power of winds. Woodlands help to maintain the quality of our drinking water, provide habitat for wildlife, and play a crucial role in helping biodiversity adapt to climate change.

The New Sylva will bring the essence of John Evelyn’s most celebrated work to a new readership. It will integrate sensitively parts of his original, visionary and very beautiful prose, with a much-needed contemporary review. It will deliver authoritative scholarship in a style that is brief, clear, accessible, and pleasurable to read, and for the very first time, it will be copiously illustrated. The New Sylva will celebrate mankind’s relationship with trees through a creative integration of history, science and art.

One of their blog’s recent posts shows a time lapse film of one of the illustrations in progress – six hours of work reduced to two concentrated minutes!

Naked treehugger Julianne Skai Arbor lends support to the protection of old growth on Vancouver Island

TreeGirl:

Tragically, people are not connecting our everyday modern consumptive lifestyle with the true cost we are paying for our wood and paper products: habitat destruction and fragmentation, soil erosion, hydrologic disruption, water siltation, wildfire hazards, and extermination of thousands of forest and riparian plant, animal and fungi species. Clearcutted forests are notorious for not being able to recover to their original structure and composition. This all equals the “uglification” and death of Life. We must change our modern value system and our forestry practices worldwide to focus on ecological system integrity.

Canada’s largest Spruce (Picea sitchensis), is The San Juan Sitka Spruce (and also the second largest Spruce in the world). It was with this tree that I did a photo shoot in the rain around the 38 ft (11.6 m) circumference, gazing up at the 205 ft (62.5 m) top. Although this wasn’t my first Sitka Spruce encounter, this was my first making love with a tree in the rain, and it was cold but magnificent embracing the wet moss!

See also the local newspaper article linked in her post, “The naked tree-hugger makes her way to Port Renfrew,” and the artist statement on TreeGirl’s website.

Madronas in bloom

Fidalgo Island Crossings:

As I drive around the area, I am seeing Madronas blooming profusely everywhere. Along the Highway 20 corridor into Anacortes, the trees are revealed as giant clouds of white blossoms all along the roadway. I had never realized how many Madronas were growing there.

These are special trees to Pacific Northwesterners, and this year, they are really putting on a show for us. The Madrona (also called Madrone and Arbutus) has been correctly described as one of Nature’s works of art. The ‘Lem’s Cameo’ Rhododendron in the foreground of the photo is a Madrona relative.

Sycamore in a road drain

Loose and Leafy:

The tree grew so well, the space available to it became a little congested. At the top of the tree (which, I would guess, is about two feet high) leaves would rise above road level, only to be sheered off by the tyres of cars running over it. It isn’t a busy street so leaves would have time to grow and poke up — but they never lasted.

A perfect day among urban trees

Philly Trees:

Have you ever seen a photo of a newborn mammal? The way the light shines through the pink flesh, through the transparent eyelids and through the doughy snouts, a field of stars shining through every new finger and toe?

It shines through the new leaves in the same way.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the leaves…

“Forest Man of India” to plant a second forest

dna (India.com):

He transformed a 550-hectare barren sandbar on the Brahmaputra into a sprawling jungle, single-handedly. At 52, Jadav Payeng now plans to upgrade another sandbar into a forest. His relentless efforts have earned Payeng the “Forest Man of India” title.

Located near Kokilamukh, 12-km away from his village in Assam’s Jorhat district, Mulai Kathoni (Mulai is his nickname) forest is a result of three decades of Payeng’s hard work. The lush forest has over one [sic] lakh trees and is home to leopards, rabbits, apes, birds, snakes, vultures, deer, wild boars and wild buffaloes.

Payeng’s efforts are viewed as significant given Assam’s alarming loss of forest cover in recent years.

(Hat-tip: Treehugger)

The fall of Britain’s second-biggest-girthed sessile oak

treeblog:

Thursday last week I heard from my father that a great oak had blown down overnight near Wrexham. From the internet I learned it was the Pontfadog Oak that had fallen – Britain’s second-biggest-girthed sessile oak (Quercus petraea). After doing a bit of research and discovering two other named oaks nearby (a story for another day), I decided to pay my respects and get some photographs of the fallen champion. So on Saturday morning I jumped in the car and drove the 100 miles to Wales – hey, if Yorkshire’s greatest lapsed treeblogger can’t do that, then who can?

[...]

I was in for a shock when I saw both the underside of the tree and the soil on which had it stood for centuries. Where were all the roots? For all intents and purposes, there was nothing at all to anchor it to the ground. The biggest roots there, which were really nothing, were completely rotten. There were a couple of small straggly roots that were live wood, but had that really managed to sustain the whole tree?

Eavesdropping on thirsty trees

Loose Leaf Blog:

It’s long been known that cavitations — air bubbles that block the flow of water throughout the tree — make a sound that can be heard with a microphone. If too many of these cavitations occur, such as we might see in drought conditions, a tree can die.

The problem is that the sounds of cavitations, among other tree activity, are outside our usual range of hearing and can only be heard with the proper equipment. Then, the question of how to tell which sounds are indicative of cavitations — and therefore early warning signs of drought stress — was a bit of a doozy.

Until now. A team of scientists from Grenoble University, Saint-Martin-d’Hères in France, led by physicist Alexandre Ponomarenko, presented a study at last month’s meeting of the American Physical Society that seems to hold the promise of a day when what is now lost in translation could be found. Using a gel capsule-like device developed by Cornell University’s Dr. Abraham Stroock, the scientists were able to take a peek inside a simulated tree and observe the cavitations and other activity at the same time sounds were being recording. Cross referencing the visual and audio data, they were able to distinguish the sounds that corresponded with cavitations from other sounds, such as fractures in the wood.

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