Pseudoacacia…The Flower Jam of the Black Locust.

Also in an airy Grove near the edge of Plantation Wood, we happen upon Robinia pseudoacacia, the False Acacia, or ‘Black Locust’ as it is known in its native Missouri, US. They are They are strange, atmospheric sight, pinnate leaves rustling in the light and trunks covered in the tree equivalent of weals.

The False Acacia is a legume, which means it can fix nitrogen in the soil and make it available to other plants (and itself, its not that philanthropic). Which Is handy if your’e a tree and your’e colonising poor soils, like desert sand…

It makes excellent firewood, furniture and is good for carving. The wood is one of the hardest woods in America and is resistant to rot, so it Is used to make small boats. HOWEVER the wood, bark and leaves are toxic to horses and people!

What Is interesting is the mixed messages on the Internet, including several plant databases, which claim this tree has Edible seeds. This is a dubious claim which needs someone (like me) to go and bloody eat some and see if they give me liver failure. As this claim may pertain to the Honey Locust (Gleditsia) and its sweet seed pulp (hence the name).

You can’t really see from the photos, but the false Acacia has modest spines in parallel pairs at the base of its leaves. The honey locust has fiercer spines and pointer leaves.

Apparently in France, Italy and Romania the fragrant flowers of False Acacia are tempura ‘d or made into ‘beignets’. The Romanians boil down the flowers into a scented jam.

It would make sense, then, if the seeds could be eaten as they used to be the flowers. In one extract from PFAF database, the ‘shelled seeds are harvested from summer to fall, both raw and boiled’.

Best wait and see if myself or Phil die first. If not Il let everyone know how tasty they are.

Pseudoacacia…The Flower Jam of the Black Locust.

Giant Sequoia – A Gentle Goliath

On our first Tree ID foray into Plantation Wood Phil and I happen upon a Wellingtonia, or Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron gigantum. The vast tree tilts skyward, and my fingers push into the thick shaggy burgundy fibres of the bark. Normally they grow about 50m tall, but in their native valley of Sierra Nevada in California, they can grow up to 90m tall. The tallest Giant Sequoia, ‘Hyperion’ is 112m tall, whilst the widest is General Sherman at a diameter of 7.7m. General Sherman weighs as much as 400 elephants – that’s about 200,000 tonnes!

The mighty Redwood is slightly conical in shape. It is the tallest tree in many areas of Britain and was often planted by rich landowners to show off how wealthy they were.

So how did the Wellingtonia come to our shores?

An English plant hunter named William Lobb raced back to England in 1833 with Giant Sequoia seeds,and beat his American counterpart Dr Kellogg to name the tree after the Duke of Wellington. Otherwise it would have been called ‘Washingtonia’ after America’s first President!

The Giant Sequoia was once an endangered species due to climate change and logging, plus it is not tolerant of pollution. What saved it was partly the fact its wood is not actually that durable compared to other trees, and it was tough going cutting them down. Imagine sawing through a trunk with a girth that could fit 40 people and a grand piano, and you’ll understand what I mean.

So why does Wellingtonia love being burned to a crisp?

Here are its cones.

The Giant Sequoia needs fire to open its cones and germinate its seeds. Every so often wild fire will race through the Redwood groves of places like Kings Canyon National Park, and the burning Sequoia cones open like magic boxes, spilling seeds onto the newly cleared forest floor. There they can grow with the competition for light and nutrients eradicated by the fires.

Clever huh!

Giant Sequoia – A Gentle Goliath