You may recall that I have been waiting for the huge “oak” trees to come into leaf near the hornbeam I am following, so I could make a proper identification. I thought they were oak because of last year’s dead leaves in the vicinity, but to be honest these trees don’t look like the native pedunculate (English) oak, Quercus robur, whose bare branches and twigs are always a bit “twiddly” looking and which are never as statuesque and straight as the ones I’m looking at in Llandaff Fields…
When I looked at these trees in early April the leaves were just starting to come out. They were oak-leaf shaped, although perhaps a bit more delicate and sharp than Quercus robur. But who am I to say, I don’t know any oak trees personally here in South Wales.
On Good Friday (April 18) I took some pictures of these trees alongside Canton Bridge, in Bute Park, but hadn’t made the connection with the Llandaff Fields trees…
On May 7, when I visited the hornbeam I am following in Llandaff Fields, I reacquainted myself with the big “oaks” there again. The leaves still didn’t look quite like “ordinary” oak to me.
I think the difference in colour between the leaves of the riverside trees and the fields trees may be just that they were at different stages and grew less yellow as they aged (indeed the riverside trees do look greener now). So for now I am assuming they are the same species.
But which species? I just about recognise English oak. I recognise holm oak (Quercus ilex), which is an evergreen oak with leaves more like olive leaves. These seemed to be neither.
Wikipedia has a list of Quercus species. Where to start? Then I had an idea. There is an online list of the trees in Bute Park (which includes the riverside trees) here. And these are the Quercus species listed:
Quercus agrifolia – Coast Live Oak
Quercus cerris – Turkey Oak
Quercus ilex – Holm Oak
Quercus myrsinifolia – Evergreen Oak
Quercus rubra – Red Oak
After eliminating the others, I have concluded the trees I have been watching are Quercus cerris, the turkey oak. What do you think?
There seems to be one clue in the Wikipedia entry. It says “The bark is dark grey and deeply furrowed. On mature trees the bark fissures are often streaked orange near the base of the trunk.”
Anyway, I am going with that identification for now. Interestingly, the tree is native to South Eastern Europe and Asia Minor and its acorns are in hairy cups.
The acorns mature 18 months after fertilisation of the flower, so I’m not quite sure how that works. Maybe I will see some later in the year…
They say “oak before ash, you’re in for a splash, ash before oak, you’re in for a soak”, referring to when the leaves come out. If you count the above trees as “oaks”, they are slightly ahead of the ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) in Cardiff, which seem to be almost the last trees into leaf this year. Does that mean a dry summer?