12 Hedgerow species to spot this autumn!
1) Hawthorn: its white blossoms you will find teaming with insects. Dormice eat the flowers and its dense thorny twists protect nesting birds.
2)Blackthorn: an excellent barrier. Young twigs in Winter will be full of white eggs of the brown hairstreak butterfly, it relies on blackthorn for its life cycle.
3)Hazel catkins: hazel nuts are appreciated by birds, mammals and us & Hazel dormice rely on this tree and can be found in Old, wide hedgerows.
4)Field maple: it is highly resistant to air pollution and its sap can be used to make maple syrup. It is also a winner with insects, particularly aphids and their predators.
5)Purging buckthorn: its dense growth makes it an ideal nesting site for many birds. The green flowers are a good source of pollen and nectar and the opposite-placed leaves are the main food plant for the brimstone butterfly caterpillar.
6)Bramble: the small roses in summer are appreciated by honeybees and other insects and the leaves are readily eaten. Blackberry picking is probably the oldest form of harvest.
7)Elm: Dutch elm disease killer 30 million trees in the 1970’s but they are slowly coming back into our countryside.
8)Elder: valuable to wildlife and foraging human alike, its weak and pithy wood makes for a gappy hedge. The flowers make a delicious cordial, the claret-coloured berries are beloved of doormice, bank voles and birds.
9)Crab apple: always buzzing and full of insects they are understandably popular with wildlife.
10)Spindle: known as robins bread for its attraction of aphids and birds, it has a high wildlife value.
11)Wayfaring tree: it grows close to paths, look for them in hedges and woodland edges, with full bloom in the spring and heavy with berries in the autumn.
12)Dogwood: is a broadleaf shrub which thrives in damp woodland edges. After pollination by insects, the flowers develop into small black berries – sometimes called ‘dogberries’.
A͌N͌C͌I͌E͌N͌T͌ W͌O͌O͌D͌L͌A͌N͌D͌ I͌N͌D͌I͌C͌A͌T͌O͌R͌S͌ to look out for from my BBC countryfile magazine.
Ancient woodland has been around for so long it has developed special communities of plants and animals not found elsewhere. It’s an important habitat and in sore need of protection.
Ancient woods are areas of woodland that have persisted since 1600 in England and Wales, and 1750 in Scotland. This is when maps started to be reasonably accurate so we can tell that these areas have had tree cover for hundreds of years. They are relatively undisturbed by human development. As a result, they are unique and complex communities of plants, fungi, insects and other microorganisms.
Just 2.4% of the UK is ancient woodland. That’s 52,000 sites covering 340,000 hectares. Those might sound like big numbers, but if those sites were combined, they would take up just three quarters of the Cairngorms National Park.
Ancient woods are our richest and most complex terrestrial habitat in the UK and they are home to more threatened species than any other. Centuries of undisturbed soils and accumulated decaying wood have created the perfect place for communities of fungi and invertebrates. Other specialist species of insects, birds and mammals rely on ancient woodlands.
Look out for these ancient woodland indicators:
▪︎Hart’s tongue fern.
▪︎ Lemon slug.
▪︎ Hard fern.
▪︎ Wood anemone.
▪︎ Lungwort lichens.
▪︎Lily of the valley.
▪︎ Small leaved lime.
❇Learn more about our British ancient woodlands from the sources below: