Friday, December 16, 2016

Winter branch patterns

Italian Alder (Alnus cordata), 16th December 2016


The typically busy crown of the Italian Alder. Still with quite a few green leaves, along with lots of large "cones",  and at the branch-tips lots of large unopened catkins.



European Lime (Tilia x europaea), 11th December 2016


This is a project that's never quite got off the ground. It's about teaching myself to recognize the characteristic shapes of the leafless or nearly leafless winter branches of different trees against the sky.

Of course there are many other identifying features, even in winter: for instance the bole and its bark. And with trees one sees a different set of features at different distances: if you can get right up close to the twigs you can examine the buds, or in the distance get a better idea of the overall habit and the shape of the crown. The idea of what I'm looking at here, I suppose, is to be able to identify branchwork against the skyline even if you don't have a well-grown tree: for example, when a branch protrudes out of a hedge.

First thing I discover is that when you look at the pictures afterwards it's difficult to decide which way up they are.  The above photo showing the lime-tree's hairline crack effect was taken more or less overhead.

The one of an elm-tree below -- well, I think I've got it the right way round, but I'm a bit disconcerted by the vertical cloud in the background!

In this case the key feature is what I think of as "herring-bone terminated by large fork". That pattern is not present here in what you might call its Ideal or Platonic form; the closest approximation is the branch on the right.



English Elm (Ulmus procera), 11th December 2016


Field Maple (Acer campestre)


Field Maple, still with lots of keys. The pedicels of the keys are persistent, remaining as whiskers long after the keys have fallen. Mostly rather short side-branches, which end in a knobby terminal bud.

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