On Saturday, 18th May, a Tree Walk was conducted around part of Abbey Fields by Lesley Hall and Veronica Hyland, both longstanding members of Warwick Tree Wardens.
Amongst the group of thirty five were FOAF members, Kenilworth residents, members of the Warwick Tree Wardens and members of the Warwickshire Natural History Society. The walk started at the War Memorial, and meandered adjacent to Forrest Road, then between the hedgerow and Luzley Brook, then the north side of the lake and finally up to the High Street. Along the way Lesley and Veronica offered countless snippets of information about the different species.
The bark of the Wild Cherry is smooth reddish brown with prominent horizontal lines – these are called lenticels and act as porous pathways for gases through the otherwise impermeable bark. The wood is hard and strong and used for furniture and veneers. The tree can reach a height of 30m. The white flowers grow on long stalks in clusters of two to six. The fruit is dark purple or red-black. The Wild Cherry makes an impressive sight in the spring when the white blossom covers the tree.
The Turkish Oak is a common non-native oak. It has long thin leaves with up to ten deep lobes on each leaf, and dark grey bark with deep fissures. The acorns sit deep in bristly cups. Fast growing, up to 35m high, the Turkish Oak is widely planted in parks.
The English (Pedunculate) Oak is one of the two native oaks (the other being the Sessile Oak). The bark is silvery grey with fissures appearing as the tree ages. Trees can live for over 1000 years. When they are around 300 years old their reduced energy results in the top branches dying back – this gives the characteristic ‘Stag Horn’ shape to the top of the tree. The tree is very much alive but not as vigorous as when it was younger!
Looking over to the Ash alongside the English Oak, it was clear that the Oak was in full leaf and the Ash was only just showing growth. Usually they leaf within a week or two of each other. The leafing of the Ash is influenced more by daylight hours, whereas the Oak is more influenced by temperature – presumably the warm spring gave the Oak a boost!
The Ash is vulnerable to chalara ash dieback, a fungal disease that has spread across Britain, and is especially destructive of the native common ash. There is no known cure although expensive fungicidal treatment can suppress the disease. The ash is identified by the compound leaf made up of multiple leaflets that appear in opposite pairs. Also the shoots can droop then curve up to the sky.
The Chanticleer Pear is native to China, and is one of the first trees to flower and last to lose its leaves – in the early spring the tree is covered in white blossom. It can grow to 8m and is used in landscaping because of its long time in leaf and tolerance to different soil types.
Near the edge of the lake is the Italian Alder. Able to grow to 30m, the glossy heart shaped leaves distinguish it from other alders. Alders are often seen by the side of rivers and lakes as their wood is tolerant to wet conditions and doesn’t rot – they are therefore useful in preventing soil erosion on the banks.
Halfway up the hill to the High Street is the Aspen. The long leaf stalks allow the leaves to flutter in the slightest breeze. It really is a very distinctive rustling sound on almost still days when no other leaves are moving!
Other trees were identified including the Lime, Field Maple, Acer, Silver Birch and Weeping Willow.
Richard Gillard – May 2019