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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nature Notes: conkers, poplars, birches, plane, wild cherry, Gingko and willowherbs Derwent May

Conkers are falling in Paris, and the Lombardy poplars along the banks of the Seine are tinged with yellow. In the countryside outside Paris (which is not very far), the small silver birches beside the railway are bright yellow, but most of the woods are still quite green. Here in Britain, the changes of colour are also taking place very slowly. London plane trees are sprinkled with yellow leaves, and some hawthorn bushes with purple and pink. Wild cherry leaves are just starting to turn red. Wild cherry is a remarkable tree, with flowers like swags of snow weighing down the branches in spring for many weeks, and rich scarlet foliage lingering on the branches for just as long in autumn. Gingko trees are turning an ochreous yellow, and the fan-shaped leaves are now falling steadily. There are downy seeds floating in the air everywhere, detaching themselves from thistles and from all the common willowherbs — the rosebay willowherb, the broad-leaved and the great hairy.

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