As I expected, the pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) in Thompson’s Park, Cardiff, has now lost its fresh spring green colours and the leaves are dark and leathery. But the transformation has happened in just a fortnight, between my two visits this month.
Now that the tree has settled down for the “boring bit” of the year (in my humble opinion), I also looked under and around the tree to see what I could find.
I read a lovely Nature Notebook column by Miriam Darlington in The Times on May 21, which reminded me of my previous visit in the rain, as she, too, took shelter under an old oak, hers being in Devon. Annoyingly I can’t link to the piece online for you, as there is a paywall and you can’t read it unless you have a subscription.
She writes: “Oak is a byword for everything that is strong, generous, robust. Not just for me, but for the thousands of species that live in this towering citadel. More plants and creatures are dependent on the oak than any other tree in the UK. Lacewings, shield bugs, treecreepers; too many species to name.”
I didn’t find any of those, but here is what I did see…
The only birds were the pigeons…
Miriam Darlington also writes: “…oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than other trees. The phrase, ‘Beware the oak, it draws the stroke’ exists because oaks tend to be taller than surrounding trees and their moisture content is very high, increasing their ability to conduct a surge of electricity.”
I can see that would apply in the middle of a field, although maybe not in a park. The tallest trees around here tend to be beeches (Fagus sylvatica) and “my” oak is very short.
What else did I see?
According to the First Nature website, Ganoderma australe, also known as Ganoderma adspersum, is a common bracket fungus that causes white heart rot in trees such as Tilia (lime), Quercus (oak), Fagus (beech), Platanus (plane) and Aesculus (horse chestnut).
Ganoderma means “shining skin” (Greek ganos, meaning brightness or shining and derma, meaning skin). Australe means “southern”.
What else was under the oak?
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