ICTeachers Photo Library
Science Topics: Trees

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copperacer.jpg elder2.jpg maytree.jpg castanea.jpg magnolia.jpg
Many people think that copper coloured trees are all Beeches. In fact many species of trees have copper varieties. This one is an Acer (Maple). Elder is a small tree, very common in hedgerows and roadside verges, as well as in gardens. The fragrant umbels of flowers can be used to flavour a cool summer drink called elderflower champagne, or to make elderflower wine. Later in the year bunches of black berries provide autumn food for birds and can be gathered to make elderberry wine. Ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out. The old saw refers to the May tree or hawthorn. Here are two of them in full bloom. Some hawthorns have pink blossom. A pair of Horse Chestnut trees growing side by side in a Surrey park. They are covered in creamy coloured "candelabras" of flowers which will later develop into conkers.
The red flowered horse chestnut is a different, but closely related, species.

Flowers

Magnolia, like many spring-flowering trees, flowers before its leaves appear.
Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman
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laburnum.jpg oak.jpg pine_oak1.jpg pines.jpg planetree.jpg
Decorative, but deadly. Laburnum is commonly grown in gardens for its beautiful early summer display of pnaicles of yellow flowers. It is a member of the pea family and produces pods of little black peas, which are very poisonous.

(This photo is a bit blurry. I hope to get a better picture for next year!)

A fine Oak tree by the side of a Surrey road. Notice how the tree has far more growth on the side away from the road. In spring: A Pine (evergreen) with an Oak (deciduous) in the background A pair of pine trees reach up between other trees in a Surrey park. Plane and Sycamore are often mistaken for each other, although they are not closely related. This photo shows the more angular leaves of a Plane tree as well as one of its balls of fruit.
Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman
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planeleaves.jpg sycamore_leavesflowers.jpg willows.jpg dappledlight.jpg willowhouse.jpg (81346 bytes)
Another, clearer view of the very angular leaves of the Plane tree. Although its leaves are similar in shape to those of the Plane,  the Sycamore has much less ngular leaves. Its flowers, too are quite different, being drooping clusters of tiny green wind pollinated flowers. A pair of Willows just coming into leaf. The weeping form is common in Willows but other trees can weep, too. In a woodland, the   canopy of leaves lets through only  a dappled light. In this photo you can see ferns making the most of the limited light. A willow house makes a popular play area in a school. This one has just had its Autumn "hair cut" but will be covered in leaves by the summer, when the grass is dry enough to play on.
Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman Mike Freedman
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Some trees regrow readily from cut trunks. For thousands of years people have cut hazel back to ground level so that it will sprout straight sticks that can be used for fencing and house-building. This process is called coppicing. Traditionally a coppiced woodland would be divided into 7 areas, one being cut back each year in rotation. Catalpa, the Indian Bean Tree, originates in North America and is often grown in parks and ornamental gardens. It has large white flowers followed by long dark brown, almost black pods. It is not a member of the pea family. The giant sequoia (or giant redwood) is often wrongly called Welllingtonia. It's scientific name is actually Sequoiadendron giganteum. These trees are known to be able to live for more than 3000 years  and can become the largest trees of all (largest volume, rather than height). The bark is very thick and fibrous The white poplar is a member of the Poplar or Aspen family. Notice that it is not a tall thin tree with upward growing branches like the well known Lombardy poplar, but a large tree with a spreading crown.
There is a photo of the same tree in winter on the Winter page of our Seasons section.
Mike Freedman
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You can tell how old a tree is by counting its rings. Each year the tree grows a new layer of wood just below the bark. The wood that grows in spring has a different structure to the later summer wood, so looks different, giving the tree clear annual rings. Trees and shrubs that grow in windy places, such as near the coast suffer from "wind pruning". The wind (especially near the sea where the air contains salt particles) kills the buds on the windward side of the plant, those on the leeward side are protected and grow normally. The tree thus takes on a lopsided shape. like these near the cliff tops in East Sussex.      
Mike Freedman      
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This page was last updated on 26 October 2007