Noteworthy trees

There is a permanent section in the website about noteworthy trees but at the moment there is a lot happening with trees blooming and going into seed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I’ve already written about the chocolate-smelling tree, Azara microphylla. That has well and truly finished flowering now. In late April the Handkerchief tree came into flower. At first the white bracts were quite small and the ball-like flowers were closed up but in early May things changed rapidly.

The white bracts became larger and brighter and the anthers in the flowers matured and the balls opened up to a become a fluffy mass. More flowers developed and the tree became a emblazoned with numerous white ‘handkerchiefs’ hanging from its branches.

At the same time this was going on another couple of trees were busy bursting into flower. These are not such peculiar trees as the handkerchief tree but their long white spikes of flowers are quite eye-catching all the same.

One is near the vehicle entrance just a little way along the path and the other is near the white house, behind the cross-shaped flower bed. Both are Bird cherry trees, Prunus padus.

The white spikes have lead to Bird cherry being called ‘wild lilac’ in some parts of the country. The flowers are strongly scented although I didn’t notice this or perhaps If there was a scent I didn’t realise where it was coming from. Anyway, both trees put on a great show and now the insects have done their job, the flowers are mostly pollinated and soon they’ll fade and develop into fruit.

In the mean-time, just a few dozen metres down the path there is another unusual tree. It caught my eye simply because it had come into flower. As had many other trees such as the conker trees and the whitebeams ; but this tree had delicate feathery flowers. They were not like any other flower on any other tree.

If I have got this right this is a fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus. It’s a native of eastern North America and my only mis-giving about identifying this as a fringe tree is the descriptions that the flowers are snow white in appearance. Some other descriptions do also say pale yellow and no other flower comes anywhere close – I’m sticking with fringe tree until told different.

Edit: another possible identification may be the Manna ash, Fraxinus ornus. The colour of the flowers is more consistent and the leaves are a good fit. Now I’m not sure which is the right one.

Just further down the path from the fringe tree, towards the car park, there is another special tree. This is a Caucasian wingnut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia.

It has already produced male catkins which have matured and is now producing long stems of female flowers. These started developing just as the male catkins were coming to the end of their life as shown here.

So I’m not sure how the female flowers will get pollinated. Maybe there’s loads more pollen left in those catkins. Can it even self-pollinate? Is there another wingnut tree around? We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, but I do seem to remember lots of dangly things (fruit / nuts?) hanging from this tree last Autumn. This Autumn, I’ll have to pay attention.

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