No PMS students this year, but no matter, the twelve trees were the stars of the show for this, the second Tree Trail on Winn’s Common. For 2016 the focus was on recognising the different trees, describing what they are likely to look like in September – when the walk will be repeated during Plumstravaganza – and explaining which parts of each were edible.
At this time of year, it’s all about leaves. The succulent Common Lime leaves were voted the most palatable – but not everyone was up for a tannic treat from the Hawthorn, Birch and Beech trees. The point was made though, that all of us were only here because our long-distant ancestors had no option but to trudge around eating mainly leaves at this time of year. Something similar must have been the case in Africa, America and Asia. The Scots Pine infusion had to be for information only since its needles are high up the trunk and it is tucked away in the newly reopened (thanks to Plumstead Common Environment Group) Workhouse Woods. As a bonus, Nick Day gave us a sneak preview of the Workhouse Woods walk which he will lead during Plumstravaganza. It was beautifully cool under the shade of the burgeoning leaves. In the summer, Elder and Lime trees will provide fragrant flowers for snacking or drying for use in a tisane.
Come Autumn, and fruits and nuts will be in abundance. The Whitebeam will probably not deliver the goods, since the fruit on that particular specimen never seems to ripen even in an Indian Summer. On the other hand, it is unmistakeable since it leans at a very jaunty angle and will be useful for anyone wanting to learn what a Whitebeam looks like. Whether anyone has a go at making pickled Ash keys remains to be seen, but they will have to be ready to come back and gather them while they are young and fresh. It is a centuries-old recipe and was made during the war, when food was in short supply. Perhaps in September we could have a tasting of goodies made from the trees in this year’s Tree Trail!