Bentley Priory Nature Trail
In the small copse to the right of the path grow many of the trees and
bushes that you will see again and again on your walk. The largest tree
is a pendunculate or English oak, Quercus robor. The name
pedunculate refers to the stalk, or peduncule, that connects the acorn
cup to the twig. The pedunculate oak is the dominant oak in southern
England while the sessile oak is most common in the north, although you
will see one specimen on the trail today.
The other tree in this little copse is a hornbeam Carpinus betulus,
one of the commonest trees in the reserve. Hornbeam wood is extremely
hard and in the past was used for gear wheels, for example in clock
The little copse also contains bushes of blackthorn Prunus spinosa
and hawthorn Crataegus monogyna. Both bear thorns, although
those of blackthorn are longer and sharper. In early spring blackthorn,
a relative of the plum, bears masses of white blossom on otherwise bare
twigs (see illustration below). Later in the year blackthorn bears its
fruit, called sloes. These are too bitter to eat but are used to
flavour gin. Hawthorn flowers later, in April and May (indeed its other
name is May). Dog rose Rosa canina clambers through the thorn
bushes and flowers all too briefly in May and June.
Go through the gate into the wood.
Image: Blackthorn blossom by Rhonda Surman
description for post 2
here to learn more about the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum including
guided walks and conservation workdays.