Posted by: Ross Gardner | March 24, 2019

Hornbeam

Let’s get something straight.  A post a month is no way to run a blog.  I know this.  Yet things occupy time, pressing things – nothing onerous, just things that need to be prioritised –  and the blog slips to the back of the mind.  Perhaps then, my ramblings should be given higher priorities.  This blog is, after all, important enough to me so that I keep it limping along through barren times and to post apologetically for my lack of blogging productivity.

I shall try to revive things with a simple post about something simple in itself and sublimely wonderful.  The first unfurlings of hornbeam buds in spring is, for me, one of nature’s great beauties.  Not that we should necessary describe it as simple, as I have indeed just done.  I am quite sure the biomechanics that go into the flushing of leaves and the revival from winter’s dormancy of that great green machine of the woodland canopy are the result of quite remarkable processes.  Rather the result is simple and all the more stunning for it.  The product of it all is a shade of green so fresh that to look at it could almost quench a thirst.  Catching the sun the unsullied new leaves gleam on the branches, energising a phosphorescence that persists even through the gloom of a cloud swaddled sky.

Hornbeam leaf - fresh plus catkin (scaled)

Fresh Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) leaves, plus catkin, catch the March sun.

And behind all of these aesthetic virtues is a tree that occupies an important ecological niche, filling the understorey beneath the loftier canopy of the oaks with which they will so often be found.  It is one that underpins the lifecycles of more than 80 species of invertebrate.

It is a fine time the beginning of spring.


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