Monday, 4 August 2008

Trees in our Community

Walking round the Penkridge Community at this time of the year really opens your eyes to the importance of trees in the town/village landscape. Within the Conservation Area of course, all trees are automatically protected because of the Planning Status of that designation. If anyone wishes to prune, lop or fell a tree within the Conservation Area, then they need to apply to the Planning Authority (the District Council at Codsall).

Outside the Conservation Area boundary, trees do not have the same protection but any important ones can be given it by Tree Preservation Orders. I will endeavour to find the list of those Orders so we can all learn which trees are given protection.

I live in Haling Road (formerly called "The Marsh", which I prefer). We have a beautiful Monkey Puzzle Pine in a front garden close to us which has grown over the last 44 years (the time we have lived here) into a wonderful tree which is now a feature of our road. Does it have protection I ask? Doubtful but I will check. What is a little worrying is that suddenly we have noticed that many of its lower branches have turned brown and I have been trying to discover whether what the cause is. It may not be early signs of the death of the tree as we first thought, as it seems that in their native area of South America (Chile), they grow to enormous trees and often finish up with just a top knot, like the Scots Pines of Scotland.

Monkey Puzzles are either male or female and you can't tell until the cones appear when they are mature. This one has started to produce cones which are round so therefore it is a female tree. (Males have more pointed cones). These female cones are beginning to explode and drop their seeds (not fertilised because we don't have any male trees around here - or do we?). I discovered from searching the internet that the seeds of this tree are edible and that the natives of Chile used to rely on them for food - they are very productive and rich in carbohydrates I believe.

It would be interesting to find out whether we have any other Monkey Puzzle Trees in Penkridge and where they are - and are they male or female? And are people planting them these days. They were first brought to this country in the late 1800's and can grow into very big trees - I think I heard that there is one in Scotland that is about 150 years old.

Do you know of any individual tree, or group of trees, that you think is important in our community and should be given protection? Tell us about them and we can draw up a list of ones that people think are important features of Penkridge.


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