The oaks have it

With plenty of opportunity to check out some weatherlore I went looking for the rate of Spring foliation in oak trees (Quercus robur) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior.

First up was the small grove of Oaks – I’d like to have got closer but it being in the middle of a field I declined to tred the newly planted tilth.

Further up the lane my favourite tree, which I’ve featured in other posts and now it too is resplendent in young oak leaves.

Just around the corner…

two or three mature Ash trees – flushing some leaf but hardly bursting forth

Further along a small Mountain Ash or Rowan – this is not an Ash tree but I’ve included it for two reasons – to emphasise the erroneous terminology of its common name – it’s actually a Sorbus. Also I wanted to show the swarms of St Mark’s flies (Bibio marci) I encountered along the brooks and hawthorn hedgerows – named after the saint’s day on which they tend to emerge, 25th April. Coincidentally these photos were all taken then too but from an earlier walk last week it was evident they had already hatched ! [click for a closer view you can just see them in the close-up once your eyes adjust!]

Still looking for Ash trees, I spotted a small one growing on this river bank.

Despite this open sunny aspect, the tree had not opened much further than its flower clusters growing at the end of the branches

The more I observed, the more I noticed how many trees are laden with their new foliage but the Ash is certainly well-behind.

At the end of my walk I encountered a small grove of Ash trees showing the first signs of foliage on some branches whilst others still bore the spiky flowers and the tight black buds that give Ash trees their readily recognised identification.

As is evident from these observation and the top featured image of Oak and Ash growing in the same locale, the Oak has come before the Ash meaning we are “in for a splash” – that is to say a dry summer, though how these trees can be foretelling this is a mystery.

Note: These observations belong to ‘phenology’ – the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena. And I’ve submitted them to the website of Gabriel Hemery – author and silvologist. I can recommend a visit if you love trees as much as I do.

13 thoughts on “The oaks have it

  1. As I remember it from my childhood in Cheshire,

    Oak before the Ash we’re in for a splash.
    Ash before the Oak we’re in for a soak.

    Which was fine if you knew where there was some Ash trees, they were much less common than the ubiquitous Common Oak in southern Cheshire.

      1. It never really occurred to me before but the Cheshire Wildlife Trust link backs up my idea that maybe the soil type is wrong for Ash in Cheshire. A lot of the Cheshire plain is well drained sand. The few places I recall Ash growing were along riverbanks and other damp places.

  2. Thank you, Laura, for settling my inner query. We have ashes here, but no handy oaks to observe, and I was wondering which one won. Splashes then. We’ve already had a few this week.

    1. did they cut down all the oaks in your area to build ‘hearts of oak and men”?
      Splashes and cold too here but summer according to the oaklore(!) will be dry

      1. Actually we do have some Courbetin oaks on the Gaskell Field planted at various Olympian Games commemorative events.. I forgot about them. I must pay them a visit.

    1. capturing the last of the oilseed fields in all their glory but just reading Isabelle Tree’s “Wilding: The return of nature to a british farm” which is a heartbreaking account of how such monocropping, tree- cutting, hedge pulling, etc decimated the wildlife which is returning to her unfarmed farm in droves. You might like to read it too Marina.

  3. I am useless at tree ID so thank you for showing the ash buds. I will look out for them, though I have no idea if they are grown in Cornwall. Lots of Beech and Field Maples and the smaller oak trees. A very interesting post.

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