As we approach summer’s climax, the conditions for exploring the walks around the Heart of England Forest are perfect. The sights, sounds and scents of the woodland are at their most intense as flora and fauna bask in the warmth of the seasonal sunshine.
Following our waymarked trails, you’ll drift among a wide mix of mature and young trees, all proudly bedecked in a vast array of vivid leaves. While you tarry in the welcome shade provided by ‘nature’s parasol’, why not take a closer look? Here’s a quick guide to some of the more common leaves to spot, but don’t forget there’s more information to be found on our website’s spotter’s guide.
Oak leaves are around 10cm long with 4-5 deep lobes and smooth edges. Leaf-burst occurs mid-May and the leaves have almost no stem and grow in bunches. It’s tough to tell the difference between oak and sessile oak, but during autumn the latter’s acorns are stalkless (sessile – hence the name!)
Ash leaves typically comprise 3-6 opposite pairs of light green, oval leaflets with long tips, up to 40cm long. There is an additional singular ‘terminal’ leaflet at the end. The leaves can move in the direction of sunlight, and sometimes the whole crown of the tree may lean in the direction of the sun. Another characteristic of ash leaves is that they fall when they are still green.
Both small-leaved and large-leaved lime trees grow in the Forest and you’ll recognise the leaf shape from the Heart of England Forest logo! The leaf buds are red, with one small scale and one large scale, resembling a boxing glove, and form on long leaf stalks. The leaves are dark green in colour, heart-shaped and flimsy and measure 6–10cm in length. They have a lopsided, lobed leaf base with tufts of white hairs, and fade to a dull yellow before falling in autumn.
Birch leaves are triangular in shape but more rounded at their base than silver birch leaves. The leaf stalks are downy, as opposed to hairless ones on the silver birch. Of course, the latter is best identified by its silvery bark.
Britain’s only native maple tree, the field maple, has small dark green shiny leaves with five lobes and rounded teeth. These fade to a rich golden yellow before falling in autumn, adding vivid shades to the kaleidoscope of autumn canopy colours.
The rowan tree has feather-like, or pinnate, leaves comprising 5-8 pairs of leaflets, plus one ‘terminal’ leaflet at the end. Each leaflet is long, oval and toothed.
One simple way to familiarise yourself with the different leaf shapes is to join one of our guided walks. There are various forthcoming events, including a guided walk on Saturday 23rd September, with our CEO, Beth Brook, starting at our Colletts Farm headquarters and taking a closer look at the woodlands and wildlife in the area. For details of this and other events click here.
Whether you join an organised walk or decide to explore on your own or with the family, we’d love to see a selfie with your favourite leaf so do get in touch!