Living on the edge…

Earth ‘entering new extinction phase’ – US study – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33209548

Sobering stuff….the report suggests we could lose our bee populations within three generations. If that were to happen, fruit and vegetable crops that rely on bee pollination could be under threat (e.g. apples, strawberries, cucumbers).

Everyone can help by growing bee friendly plants. Not sure what to grow? Then check out this guide published by the Royal Horticultural Society:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/encourage-wildlife-to-your-garden/plants-for-pollinators

Happy Growing!

Top Ten Trees of the World: No. 8

Eighth on my list is Pinus Wallichiana: the Himalayan Pine.

A majestic tree growing up to 70 m tall with long, soft blue-green needles and large fresh green cones. It is native to the high mountains and temperate rainforests of China (Southern Tibet, Northwestern Yunnan), Afghanistan, Bhutan, Northern India, Kashmir, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sikkim.

Pine pollen grains are very small, measuring approximately 100 microns in length (1 micron = 0.001 mm). We can see what they look like using a microscope. Pine pollen grains look a bit like Mickey Mouse to me – click here to see if you can work out why!

Click here for an image of Pine pollen taken using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), a very powerful type of microscope. The image colours have been enhanced to highlight the air sacs on the pollen grain shown in white and the main body of the grain coloured green.

Top ten trees of the world: No. 9

At number 9 is the Baobab (Adansonia).

Native to Madagascar, Africa and Australia, the Baobab (pronounced ‘Bay-O-Bab’) is capable of living for over 1000 years.

Having a distinctive shape characterised by wide, flat branches that look like roots and a water-storing trunk thickest near the base, the Baobab is the focus of myth and legend; it is said that a devil uprooted the tree and replanted it upside down. Pollinated by bats, at night the Baobab produces foot-long flowers in an impressive display of yellows and purples.

Click here to learn more about these unique trees and see footage of flowering Baobabs.

Curious to know which tree will be at No. 8 on the list? Keep following my blog to find out…

Top ten trees of the world: No.10

At Number 10 on my list of top ten trees of the world is a true icon of Spring: the Cherry Tree.

The cherry tree sits within the Rose (Rosaceae) family, within the genus Prunus which groups cherries with other well-known plants such as plums, almonds and apricots.

Ancient cherry tree, Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Ancient cherry tree, Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Late March typically heralds the onset of Blossom Season in Japan, when the cherry trees come into full bloom, colouring the landscape with spectacular red, pink and white blossoms.

The Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto is an arresting sight in Spring. It is located along a canal lined with hundreds of cherry trees that burst into life with an impressive display of light pink blooms in early April. Marayama Park is home to some of the oldest cherry trees in Kyoto (such as the one pictured to the left), drawing large crowds during blossom season.

The celebrated Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata), also known as Sakura is native to northern and central China, Korea and Japan. It features prominently in Japanese culture and is popular in gardens and parks worldwide.

To see what the pollen of Prunus serrulata looks like, click here.