Sunday, November 9, 2014

The sweet chestnut that refuses to die....

Auckland park, in Bishop Auckland, has an interesting collection of old trees and these venerable sweet chestnuts are amongst the finest.




















Some, like this one, are in the prime of life and produced a very heavy crop of chestnuts this year. 

























There are four mature trees that were planted in a line beside a small stream. The ground under them is covered in a thick layer of their serrated leaves, spiny fruit husks and nuts that will keep the squirrels well fed for weeks to come.


























The low-angle late autumn sunshine this morning showed off their fissured bark beautifully. 

























One of the four has been dying for the thirty five years that I've known it. It has shed most of its branches, much of its bark, has been attacked by wood boring beetles and fungi .....

























... and yet every year it sprouts new growth, refusing to die. There could be decades of life left in it yet, unless the roots finally rot and it's blown over by a gale and ......


























...........that would be a pity, because I'd really miss this gnarled old trunk. It's one of the park's characters.




8 comments:

  1. Neat story and beautiful photos!

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  2. Old trees are simply beautiful, tactile and huggable :)
    Amanda

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    1. Totally agree - and this is one of my favourites; can't pass by without touching it!

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  3. One thing I never knew for a long time that the 'decay' in trees is predominantly caused by fungi, fungi which are in at the beginning - the seed that germinated contains the fungal key to the eventual senescence of the mature veteran. Other fungi attack of course, entering via wounds but I found it astonishing that the seedling is host to its own mortality. In the meantime they are wonderful to behold as age provides fissured interest. Lovely posting.

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    1. Thanks! Wasn't it Oliver Rackham who said that the only thing more useful [for biodiversity] than a live tree is a dead tree?

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  4. So beautiful, it is truly sculptural, hopefully for many years to come.

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    1. I wonder how many different organisms it has supported in its lifetime so far?

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