Oldest pine tree fossil discovered in Canada

Fossil of oldest pine tree discovered – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35767640

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Top Ten Trees of the World: No. 7

At number 7 we have Liquidambar orientalis: the Oriental sweet gum – one of my favourite trees of all time!

Native to SW Asia, the name Liquidambar refers to its aromatic gum, previously described as ‘liquid amber’. Orientalis is Latin and means ‘from the East’ (Source: Davis Landscape Architects).

Deciduous, broad-leaved and often found in parks and arboretums in temperate zones (e.g. Kew Gardens, ANU Canberra), Liquidambar is famed for its show-stopping Autumnal display when its palm-shaped leaves turn from green to vibrant shades of orange, scarlet or purple.

Liquidambar produces beautiful round pollen grains covered with large pores – click here to see some photos.

The exterior ‘shell’ (exine) of this and other pollen grains are made of decay-resistant sporopollenin, enabling grains to be preserved for thousands of years in lake sediments, peat bogs and other depositional environments – providing a record of the types of vegetation that grew in the past.

 

 

 

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.

Track A Tree website now live

Ever fancied getting involved in environmental research?

‘Track A Tree’ is looking for volunteers to become Citizen Ecologists, helping to capture changes in woodland trees and flowering plants during the Spring.

The project has been developed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and The Woodland Trust.

You’re free to choose which tree(s) to track – maybe there’s one in your garden or in a nearby park that would be ideal.

If you are based in the UK and fancy getting involved, click here for more details.