The Autumn Trees and Flora of Sheepleas

Back by popular request was a walking tour of the Sheepleas mixed woodland open space run by our Society member, Pamela Holt.

Pamela ran this morning tour twice the same morning as we have been sticking to a reduced numbers quota. A few hardy souls braved the pouring rain to meet and learn how to identify tree types from their leaves, fruits, buds and location, especially in winter.

We were guided through beautiful areas of late autumn colour of oak, beech, yew, the ‘beams’ – whitebeam, hornbeam, various maples, willows, sycamores, ash, lime and London plane trees (I’m sure there were more that I’ve forgotten!). In winter when there are no leaves on deciduous trees to assist identification, we learnt to look at surrounding vegetation, presence and arrangement of buds on the stem, presence of nuts on the ground or some berries still remaining on the tree. We were encouraged to look at wild clematis weaving its way through walls of deciduous hedgerows, where honeysuckle also fought for space.

Tree roots are not nearly as deep as you might imagine a lofty beech tree to have – their roots spread superficially far and wide. This is evident when you see a fallen tree with its roots still intact.

Pamela is extremely knowledgeable and has had an interesting career as a botanist, having started out with Kew Gardens & travelled far and wide since.

The interesting thing as a keen walker is that I often walk in areas consulting a map, enjoying the views, chatting or looking ahead to where I’m going – but don’t notice the huge variety of tree species right next to me off the path.

Diane Cooper



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