Trees in summer, trees in winter

I often walk past the same trees at different times of the year, and when I get home and sort out my photos, I see just how different they are throughout the year. Here’s a great example:

So they’re both the same tree, but you can learn different things from them at different times. In winter you can see the shape of the tree’s branches more clearly, and really get a sense of how the tree has grown a second set of smaller/epicormic branches, after the long-term shape of the tree has been established. The trunk is sinuous, and without the full growth of bracken, you can see how the base really flares out. It’s easier to see the holes in the trunk and branches in the winter. In the summer, it’s not so obvious that these smaller branches are so different, as everything is in leaf.

At this time of year and into the autumn, it’s possible to see if the tree is a pedunculate or a sessile oak, as the leaves and acorns give that information. Tricky to get right up to the tree at this time of year to measure the trunk and see if there’s any fungi at the base, when the bracken and brambles are so high. There have been some trees I’ve chosen not to measure in the summer because of the wildlife, which has been very active! One tree I pass regularly has a hornets nest in – definitely a winter recording task.

Out of interest, this tree has a girth of 5.62m at 1.5m high. The base of the trunk is quite fluted, and has some patches of bark missing in places. There’s a really large hole where a branch used to be, with edges that are really well healed over – the branch must have fallen decades ago, at least. Inside here you can see that the trunk is hollowing, and you can see the distinctive colour of brown rot on the wood that’s just inside. At the very base of the trunk there’s lots of young epicormic growth – I saw this in the winter, but haven’t been back in the summer to get a look up close to this. The tree is in a fairly open position so it can spread and grow as it chooses now. What a great tree!