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The Tuesday tree: an impostor exposed

November 23, 2010

All through the summer, we have walked past this stand of mixed evergreens with barely a second glance. One tree is perhaps a little lighter green than the others, but hardly enough to merit comment.

Come November, however, and the impostor finds itself revealed. A conifer like its neighbours, it is not an evergreen: it is a deciduous Larch, whose needles betray it with a golden glow before dropping.

In this part of Scotland there are vast numbers of European larches, thanks to the large scale plantings instigated by the Dukes of Atholl in the eighteenth century. This particular specimen is probably a Japanese larch, however, which is widely grown as a commercial timber crop. Both kinds turn golden yellow at the end of the year, lighting up the November hillsides; so we don’t mind at all that one has infiltrated the Douglas firs and spruce near the castle.


See also: too many trees

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Cassandra permalink
    November 23, 2010 1:49 pm

    I watched this on BBCiPlayer a few nights ago: It made me think of your Tuesday post straight away. As an newcomer to Scotland I had no idea that the trees that cover this landscape had changed so much over the years and were so controversial. Completely and utterly enthralling.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      November 25, 2010 9:46 pm

      Thank you for this link. I am watching it in fits and starts as my broadband connection is playing up – most frustrating as it looks very interesting! The remnant of Caledonian forest at Loch Maree strongly reminded me of Rothiemurchus. I wrote about the forest there on 24 March this year, in a post called ‘Mountains, eagles and a snowy beach: the best of Scotland’, and also on October 5, should you like to compare. (Shameless self-promotion, but there are some photos to show you what I mean.)

  2. Deb permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:27 pm

    How lucky you are to have so many lovely trees. We have just a few, and sadly one very large white pine is leaning precariously and has to be cut down. I feel terrible about it – I hate to have to cut down this tree, but have no choice. Hopefully we’ll be able to plant a new one in its place, but one that does not grow so large, maybe just 30 feet or less. Any suggestions?

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      November 23, 2010 11:24 pm

      It’s always sad to have to cut down a tree, isn’t it. I hate it. I’m not the best person to advise you on a replacement, though, I’m afraid, being a fellow admirer rather than an expert! And everything depends on your climate, height above sea level, and length of growing season. For example, some conifers that reach 100 feet easily here will struggle to make 30 feet in Sweden. I’d ask around locally for ideas if I were you. Good luck.

  3. Erika W. permalink
    November 23, 2010 9:48 pm

    You have reminded me of a holiday spent some years ago in the pineapple summerhouse in Airth. There, also on the grounds of the ruined house, was an avenue of Californian giant redwoods leading now from nowhere to nowhere. It almost made my heart break.

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      November 23, 2010 11:25 pm

      I’m sure many of these old trees will outlast us all, and our houses. There are redwoods here that are barely teenagers in tree years: I wonder what they will see in their lifetimes.

  4. November 25, 2010 12:24 am

    Larch is called hemlock, larch and tamerack interchangeably here, and is a native tree that declined under clearcutting and tree cropping for pulpwood and softwood lumber. Hemlock is prized for it ability to withstand decay around coastal areas and is often used as wharf decking. It has the most delicate small rose coloured cones in late spring – striking – but you have to get really up close to see them.
    Thank you again for the lovely images.

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