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Counting fungi and trees

by Brian Lavers

October’s task for the Monitoring Group volunteers involved a survey of Henry’s Wood at Green Farm with a view to establishing its current make up and to come up with suggestions for some possible conservation interventions. A fungi survey formed an ancillary task.

Henry’s Wood lies off Old Barn Lane, the road forming its western boundary, and has an approximate area — at least according to our somewhat crude measurement on the day – of 0.87 hectares, or, in old money, 2.16 acres.

Mature Holly, Wild Cherry and Rowan grouped at the eastern extremity of Henry's Wood at the Countryside Restoration Trust's Green Farm.

Mature Holly, Wild Cherry and Rowan grouped at the eastern extremity of the wood.

All the boundaries except that at its southern edge consist of bank and ditch which would suggest that there has been a wood there for some considerable time.

For the purposes of our survey the wood was divided into five very roughly 20 metre strips, each strip being walked and the position of each tree and any other feature of interest plotted, again very roughly, on a plan view of the wood.

Apart from a few larger trees along the boundaries all of the trees within the wood appear to be about the same age, the tallest being no higher than 20 metres. Not unexpectedly Ash, Oak and Birch dominate but there were a few surprises as shown in the following table.

Tree Number
Ash 56
Oak 46
Birch 29
Wild Cherry 9
Larch 5
Beech 2
Hawthorn 2
Holly 2
Rowan 1

In one small area at the eastern extremity of the wood a very large Holly, pollarded at some stage in its life, has reached a surprising 20 metres in height while alongside it, and of equal size, are a Wild Cherry and a lone Rowan.

Our fungi survey was a disappointment, the unusually dry weather of late producing a relatively limited selection. Positively identified were Birch Polypore, Turkeytail, Hairy Curtain Crust, Blushing Bracket, Split Porecrust, Cramp Ball, Elder Whitewash, Variable Oysterling and Sulphur Tuft.

Less positively identified were a Russula of unknown variant, a puffball and a Pleurotus, probably ostreatus, but located sufficiently far up a cherry tree to make a positive identification impossible.

Countryside Restoration Trust volunteers counting trees and funghi.

Bill Young and Brian Senior attempting simultaneous surveys of fungi and trees.

There is an extensive Hazel understorey, much taller and more robust at the western end of the wood. That at the eastern end has an evident anaemic look to it where the canopy of the standard trees is more dense and blocks the light. Holly understorey is also plentiful but most of it comparatively short.

Lonicera (the garden hedging variety) has established itself in a couple of places as have three or four small patches of Rhododendron but the removal of that would be an hour’s work for any Wrinkly whose rhodie-bashing skills have been honed in Tankersford! Another garden escape, a lamium variety, is in the process of robustly carpeting the eastern end of the wood.

Two, somewhat half-hearted, badger setts are also present, small beer when compared to the industrial-sized excavations at Pierrepont.

Henry’s Wood, like all broadleaved woodland, is a delight but it is in need of some fairly drastic attention if it is to be restored to its once classic “standards with understorey” status. Light needs to be let in in order to reinvigorate the extensive Hazel coppice and this will require the removal of a number of the larger trees, perhaps all of the Birch and Larch plus some of the Ash.

The work required to open up the canopy would be well beyond the capabilities of the Wrinklies but once the heavy work had been completed there would be plenty of scope for Hazel coppicing.

In October 2012, the report on this survey by Bill Young — leader of the monitoring group covering both Green and Pierrepont farms — was published on this website.