BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘marcescence’

#365daysofbiking Damper and dampers

November 23rd – Another headache-grey wet day, with a better ride out than expected. I drifted over to Chasewater in the constant drizzle to visit the model shop there, and then went up the causeway to the North Heath.

With barely a soul around, and it actually being quite warm, it gave me chance to take in the misty, grey atmosphere that Chaewater can and does wear so very well.

I studied the power lines with their anti-harmonic and anti-gallop dampers, and wondered at the stress – both mechanical and electrical – they must be under in conditions like these.

And in the scrub and marsh there was muted colour – but colour all the same – in the foliage of the heather and marshgrass, and the marcescent  oaks that pepper the ridge.

The fresh air felt good in my lungs and I’m starting to not mind the rain either – the sort of meteorological Stockholm syndrome one only gets at the end of winter or during very wet summers.

Some cold weather might be nice, though.

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#365daysofbiking Unshed

February 4th – I’ve always been puzzled why it might be that some deciduous trees don’t shed their dead leaves in autumn; the summer growth dies and goes brown, but doesn’t drop.

Someone asked the same question on social media over the weekend, so I thought I’d look into it.

The characteristic is called marcescence, and is exhibited mainly by oak, beech and hornbeam in the UK. It’s not clear what the evolutionary purpose of this curious feature is; it could be to shelter leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, and indeed, some oaks are only marcescent on lower boughs. Another theory says that the leaves attached to the beaches have their goodness absorbed back into the tree over winter, which is more efficient than them dropping and relying on conversion from leaf litter.

So I’m not really much wiser, but at least it has a name – and this marcescant oak was showing it’s dead leaves well beside the cycleway in Telford as I passed this morning, making me smile.

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