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Archive for May, 2012

This is the first time I have found this on a woodchip pile. Usually I find it on wet and very rotten wood, so there is not a lot of difference to woochips. Woodchips have a large surface area to volume ratio which allows rapid decay of the wood on all the surfaces,  releasing a lot of nutrients very quickly. It is the equivalent of baby food. A lot of fungi are making the switch to the richer environment. Some are becoming specialists and are not found in other environments.

Link to species notes.

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Following on from a previous post, (the ‘Immune System’ of a Fallen Poplar Tree), which described the cross-section of a tree trunk, this is the same tree reaction to a fungal infection but not in cross-section. This log is hollow and the upright break in the wood is in part along the surface of a sheet of black. This sheet is a waterproof layer put down by the tree to stop the spread of fungus through the tree. It seems to leave a line of weakness in the wood as the wood often breaks across this layer.

Next to this log was a section of bark that had fallen off. It had a couple of layers of wood attached to the back of it. When I turned it over, the same black anti-fungal layer had grown into the layers of wood in patches. A series of black rings marks the edges of the bulges of the black layer through the wood surface at this layer of wood. It looks to me like a piece of art. This is the photo below…….

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Although this bird looked for all the world like a grown up, it was clumsy. It missed a landing on a fallen branch and ended up looking like ‘what do I do now?’. It eventually had encouragement from a couple of well-adjusted magpies and managed to extricate itself from the tangle of twigs and was up and on the gravestones again. It must have been a young bird. The feathers were all in place but the coordination was still to come.

Link to photos of Abney Park Cemetery May 2012.

Link to photos of birds in Abney.

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One of the hybrid poplar trees came crashing down recently (a few months ago). A section of the trunk is displaying the problem the tree was facing. The way trees defend themselves against fungal attack is to shut away a section of the wood under attack by forming a waterproof boundary around the affected section of the wood. The shut off area is no longer useful to the tree as a conduit from root to leaf as the waterproofing shuts off this section from the rest of the tree, but it will hopefully contain the fungus. If the first shut off area doesn’t work another is put in place. It doesn’t matter in the heartwood, which is dead anyway, (which is why hollow trees happily live on), but it does matter when it shuts off the cambium layer, just under the bark. The cambium is the layer that allows for the upwards transport of water and nutrients to the leaves and the downwards transport of photosynthesized sugars to the roots. This tree had so many sections shut down that the cambium was blocked. The edges of the barriers are black so stand out in cross-section. There are some waterlogged sections that are darker, proving the waterproofing of the boundaries. And all this without any fruiting fungus on the outside of the tree. Which fungus it was causing all this problem may yet reveal itself as growth on the dead wood or fallen trunk.

Link to post ‘Tree reaction to fungus infection’ showing different aspects of this phenomenon.

 

 

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Broad Leaved Dock, Rumex obtusifolius, is not generally the most striking plant in the undergrowth. It is known for its use in countering nettle stings and that is about that. I would have thought so too until this morning when I looked at it properly backlit by sun. The veins really form an intricate (fractal?) pattern.

Link to photos of Abney Park Cemetery May 2012.

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Three flower colours are on display by the Hawthorn trees. The widespread white flowered with pink stamens (when young), the bright red flowers, which is a seperate species, and a pink flowered hawthorn which may be a third species or a cross between the other two. They are all looking at their best in this weekends’ sunshine.

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Walking round Abney this morning and the typical patch of  low level foliage is a mosaic of plants, of which a lot are flowering at the moment. The more I looked the more there seemed to be in the mix. A snap of a representative area of one type of leafage is here….

In the photo are the pink flowers of Herb Robert (bottom left), the long pointed oval shape of Broad-leaved Dock (bottom center), the whorls of thin leaves coming off of the stems of Cleavers (interspersed through the other plants), the heart-shaped leaves with the scalloped edges and small white flowers on the flower spikes of Garlic Mustard (seen in front of the shorter, more central grave stone), the white lacy flower platforms of Cow Parsley (left side), bramble leaves (front of tree and towards the right), Bluebells (front of tree and to the left), leaves of the Small-Flowered Buttercup (which will later have hooked seeds that dog owners will be removing from their pets fur after the walk), and at the front, grass of some sort. I’m sure there were others in the mix when I was standing looking, but they are maybe lost behind the leaves of others somewhere. The growth this year is almost more luxuriant, probably due to the rain.

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