Hedges and Hedgelaying by Murray Maclean

Hedges and Hedgelaying by Murray Maclean

Author:Murray Maclean
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781785000553
Publisher: Crowood

The leaves of the mountain ash.

Taller Trees

Sycamore (Acer psuedoplatanus): A fast-growing tree that will develop a fine domed canopy in maturity. It will grow to a height of 30m (100ft) with a good upright trunk to keep it well clear of hedges. The sycamore carries nectar-rich flowers on pendulous spikes, which become the familiar winged seed by autumn. The broad and bright green leaves with three to five pointed lobes have distinctive pink to red stems.

It is currently out of fashion with foresters because of its ability to regularly produce large quantities of seed, which germinate readily under most conditions to produce a mass of young saplings. In a woodland setting these saplings need to be controlled to prevent their swamping other, more desirable tree species. Sycamore are at present a target for grey squirrels, who strip off the bark at the top of young trees to get at the sweet and tender sap wood, leaving the tree with a dead crown — a further problem for foresters.

Conservationists shun the sycamore because it is not a native species, having been introduced into the country some time between the end of the Roman occupation and the Middle Ages. But the reality is that the sycamore produces fine, hard, close-grained timber that has many and varied uses. The tree also supports a large number of aphids through the growing season, and it will be buzzing with bees in spring as they gather its abundant nectar.

With the growing implications of climate change and disease problems in some of our native species, it is time to become a little more realistic in the seletion of hardwood tree species. The sycamore is an ideal candidate for planting in a hedgerow where its seed productivity would not be a problem, and its ability to feed a large aphid population would be of great benefit to birds and other hedgerow inhabitants. Furthermore, in addition to the benefits it bestows on man and wildlife, the sycamore is a very attractive tree in the landscape.


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