Tree Following 2015: Changing leaves

limewalk_tavistock_mayThe problem with observing a pollarded tree is the sheer lack of perceptible changes until Spring is well established.

In April, the Tilia trees of Tavistock square looked just as they did in March. Hence I skipped a post for then but now at last there is a flurry and flush of new growth all along the trunk, from top knots to base.

With the onset of foliage, I can at last begin to observe the leaf differences between the 2 types of Lime trees here – the original Tilia × Europea and their replacements: T. platyphyllos ‘Streetwise’.

Known as the Common Lime, T. x Europea is in fact a naturally occurring hybrid of two British natives  i.e T. cordata (small-leaved lime) x  T. platyphyllos (large-leaved lime). From this mixture, the trees manifest with characteristics of both parents having medium-sized, moderately hirsute leaves. In short a middle of the road kind of tree, and the one we most associate with avenues and sticky aphid deposits.

Despite its large-leaved epithet, platyphyllos actually means flat leaved in Latin, and plate-like they may be, although to find a pure specimen is, according to Monty Don, a rarish event, with them being confined now to chalk or limestone. The ‘streetwise’ selection is a cloned and (?genetically) modified version, developed precisely to withstand the more extreme challenges of our ever-increasing urban environments (there are also ‘streetwise’ cloned versions of T. cordata as well as Acer campestre).

From L to R: Tilia x platyphyllos 'streetwise' vs T. x Europea pollarded lime tree walk - Tavistock Square
From L to R: Tilia x platyphyllos ‘streetwise’ vs T. x Europea foliage – pollarded lime tree walk – Tavistock Square

Already slugs and aphids have tucked into new growth on the Common Limes as evidenced by the tell-tale procession of ants to and from their honeydew farms along the trunk roads. The T. platyphyllos hybrids seem more resilient although one or two were showing signs of gall mite growths – those unsightly red ‘nails’ that stand vertically on the leaf surface.

As I wander around the lime tree walk, I am astounded by the tenacity of life still pushing forth from the most damaged of the trees. Deterioration of Tavistock Square’s common limes is continuing and I guess they will eventually be replaced with all the ‘streetwise’ newcomers – that is if these supposed toughies can prove themselves worthy of their reputation.

Meanwhile in the Southern corner of the square, Virginia Woolf looks faintly aghast at the Tavistock Hotel which stands where her family home once was, before it was bombed in 1939. Here she wrote many of her most famous novels:

And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees
and changing leaves.” ― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Tree Following with Lucy: There’s a link box on Loose and Leafy on 7th of the month for 7 days. Every month!


10 thoughts on “Tree Following 2015: Changing leaves

    1. with pollarding you get to see the leaves more at eye level and shade is less dense 🙂 love this square Beth whatever the time of year but the fully ripe lime(!) trees put the zing into it


  1. Lucy Corrander

    The mites and slugs and ants and honeydew . . . all the less romantic things at work create a darker, richer different tenor behind the post and the avenue. If the new trees are clones – does this mean too that they are infertile?


Comments are closed.