Bentley Priory Nature Trail

Post 1: 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 mechanisms.

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

To description for post 2

Click here to learn more about the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum including guided walks and conservation workdays.