THE CUT

Our online botanical publication.

GREEN UP YOUR LIFE

KNOW YOUR TREES: THE BLUFFER’S GUIDE

20th September 2018

Words by Jessica Peace

You might be feelin’ cocky about your plant knowledge by now, but before some of them drop their leaves for their autumn look get to KNOW YOUR TREES.


THE MIGHTY OAK

NAMECHECK

Quercus robur; ‘quercus’ made from the Celtic ‘quer’, meaning ‘fine’ and ‘cuez’, ‘tree’.

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

This is the acorn DADDY; you’ll recognise the ‘lobed’ leaves and their acorns with those little pixie caps.

FOR THE GEEKS

The oak makes you wait… not producing acorns until it’s about 40 years old.


THE WEEPING WILLOW

NAMECHECK

Salix babylonica; from the Celtic ‘sal’, meaning ‘near’ and ‘lis’, ‘water’.

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

Literally looks like its weeping… long ‘pendular’, tear-like leaves and often hangin’ out in damp spots or banksides ‘weeping’ into the water.

FOR THE GEEKS

All ‘weeping’ willows only produce female only catkins - the yellow fluffy ‘flowers’ produced in spring. Girl Power.


THE HORSE CHESTNUT

NAMECHECK

Aesculus hippocastanum - wrap your tongue around that one after a drink.

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

This is the CONKER MONSTER, you’ll recognise the ‘palmate’ leaves which look like a massive floppy hand; then come the conkers in autumn, those giant glossy nuts which you can knock someone out with.

FOR THE GEEKS

Get Lucky - when the leaf falls in autumn it leaves a horseshoe shaped ‘scar’ on the twig.


THE BUSTLING BEECH

NAMECHECK

Fagus sylvatica; ‘sylvatica’ from the latin ‘sylvatica’, meaning ‘inhabiting the woods’, like it!

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

Ooh we love a beech hedge, clipped to within an inch of its life. This is the brown leaved rustly one through the autumn and winter, the leaves look like a crinkle cut crisp.

FOR THE GEEKS

Beech is semi-deciduous -  it keeps half of its clothes on over winter.


THE ASH

NAMECHECK

Fraxinus excelsior (best name yet).

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

These fickle trunks can bend their crowns closer to the sun, so your ash might be looking a bit wonky. The ash has a ‘compound’ leaf, meaning, it looks like it has around 5-9 smallish leaves making one perfect big’un. You’ll see purple clusters of flowers before the leaves pop out in spring.

FOR THE GEEKS

Ash is ‘dioecious’ - it has either male OR female flowers on each tree.


THE LONDON PLANE

NAMECHECK

Platanus x hispanica, from the Greek for ‘broad’ - charming.

HOW WILL I KNOW IT?

The bark looks ‘camouflagey’, all brown, yellow and green splodges. It has ‘conker’ like balls hanging off it and an ‘acer’ star shaped leaf.

FOR THE GEEKS

These guys are ‘monoecious’, lads and lasses all on the same tree just hangin’ out on different stems - can’t put it in a box.


… there’s just a few to get you started.

You’re welcome.