Saturday, 31 October 2009

Boundary Yew of Leigh Woods

This wonderful yew (Taxus bacata) slowly absorbed the county boundary wall in Leigh Woods (Bristol) for many years, blocks of stone can be seen partly engulfed by the trunk. Relatively recently the wall has been reshaped to allow the tree room to grow freely and the trunk will continue to thicken. This tree might have been there before the wall was first built, maybe it was even treated as a boundary marker itself. It is very hard to tell the age of any living tree as their growth rate can vary considerably depending on genetics, climate, location, and health. However yews live to prodigious ages and there are yews in Britain estimated to be more than 5,000 years old. For plenty of facinating information about Britains ancient yews visit the site of the Ancient Yew Group.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Beefsteak Fungus

Before the Autum rains began I tried a speculative mushroom hunting expedition. It was really a fools errand because most fungus need plenty of moisture to produce their fruiting bodies. While some prefer medows, I like mushroom hunting in the woods.

Well the trip was a lovely days rambeling but resulted in few rewards appart from the discovery of this large Beefsteak Fungus, Fistulina hepatica (after the Latin fistula meaning pipe and refeing to its spore releasing tubes on it's underside that give it it's meat like texture and the Latin hepaticus or the Greek hēpatikōs refering to the liver like appearance of the flesh).

This large specimen was growing on the dead wood of an oak, though they are also to be found on the wood of the sweet chestnut. It was well out of reach and I could not safely climb to it (though that didn't stop me trying!) on my way up I found a smaller friut and satisfied myself with that!

The flavour is slighty bitter and it requires long cooking but I have a robust palate and rather like it!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cockspur Thorn

Crataegus crus-galli is a native of North America but is occasionally grown as an ornamental in Europe. It is called coackspur thorn due to its very long spines (up to 10cm). This is the only specimen I know of in Bristol and last year I gathered a number of its big starchy berrys... it makes an excellent jelly for fatty meets such as duck or goose. Maybe I will again once the first frost has touched them.

Bonsai Bark

My Hinoki Cypress shohin bonsai is posted on Stone Latern's Bonsai Bark Blog... I don't expect to win the prize but it's just fun to join in.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Goblin Combe yew

This Taxus bacata gripping a the foot of the steep side of Goblin Combe really fits the name of the place... wonderful!

My wife spotted a leering face in the roots... can you?