It’s May and the Hornbeam is looking less like Beech, with which it is easily confused in first leaf, and more like the Birch family, of which Carpinus betulus is evidently a member.
Almost lost from view amongst the density of foliage are the dripping bracts of papery green seed cases. With an overcast light on a windy day these were not easy to capture so I took a sample to photograph later. It loitered in my bag for a few hours before I remembered and although looking rather withered, the image shows fruited pairs, resembling bunches of hart’s tongue ferns.
At the tree’s base, Spring flowers have given way to the wildflower opportunists which gives me the opportunity to learn a few names – I can see Milk thistle, Wood Avens and Goose Grass (Cleavers). Looking upwards, graffiti scars are evident in the fluted trunk whilst higher still, amputations of lower limbs have created a rather weird and wonderful sculpted face
The Hornbeam is unique in Gordon Square but blends well with the wooded setting and stands its ground under taller neighbours. Elsewhere in the squares of Bloomsbury, Carpinus betulus form dense boundaries which until now I’ve passed by with a glancing assumption of beech hedging. That’s just one of the reasons I enjoy ‘tree following’ – it hones my somewhat blunted observation skills.
[Question: Why do the hedges not bear catkins and seed pods that could certify id. Does anyone know?]
Weed ID guide
Tree Following with Lucy: There’s a link box on Loose and Leafy on 7th of the month for 7 days. Every month!