Our beautiful Yew Tree lit up at night with Christmas lights, photo by PH Morton
The Yew Tree
We have got a lovely yew tree in our front garden which we dress up with lights on Christmas. It is now about 8 feet tall and still growing.
But did you know that the yew tree has a not quite a nice superstition attached to it?!!!
Yew (Taxus baccata) is a characteristic tree of churchyards, where some are estimated to be well over 1,000 years old.:
It is believed that ever since people arrived upon UK shores, they planted yew trees in acts of sanctification, close to where they eventually hoped to be laid to rest.
And, according to a label on a yew tree at Kew Gardens in 1993:
The Druids regarded yew as sacred and planted it close to their temples. As early Christians often built their churches on these consecrated sites, the association of yew trees with churchyards was perpetuated
Apparently, if you bring in a yew (as part of a bundle of greenery for decoration) inside the house at Christmas, there will be a death in the family before the year out. It is also advised not to take yew inside the house because it is very unlucky!!!
Oh no, our yew tree is so beautiful to be a source of such malevolent superstition.
And all parts of the yew tree are poisonous, the hidden seeds inside the berries are extremely poisonous.
Pomelo is called suha in Tagalog and dogmon in Ilocano.
It is 3 to 4 times the size of a grapefruit and can be as big as a melon. In fact pomelo is the largest citrus fruit that it has acquired a scientific name of citrus maxima or citrus grandis.
Pomelo is closely related to the grapefruit, but I actually prefer suha as I find grapefruit can be rather bitter.
The pomelo tree can grow really tall and when it flowers, the little cluster of white blossoms has the most fragrant smell.
Pomelo is rich in vitamin C. Really juicy and when fully ripen in the tree, it can be very sweet.
But I actually love a pomelo that it still just before it truly ripen. I love the slight sour taste which a little sprinkle of salt will activate the salivary gland. Just thinking of this now makes my mouth water. Actually I prefer when the flesh of the pomelo is left to steep in a dish of slightly salty vinegar. Delicious.
Suha, photo by Ruben Ortega
The juicy flesh here is pink but suha can also be yellowish white.
In the Philippines, where I grew up, the coconut is very important that it is considered as the tree of life.
The basic reason is that the tree trunks, the whole fruits they bear, the leaves, in essence the whole tree can be of use to us.
Coconut is big business as well. The Philippines is a second major exporter of copra, which is dried coconut meat/flesh, a good source of coconut oil, which can be used for cooking, shampoo, and ingredients to beauty products and use for medicinal purposes..
The leaves are used to bind and wrap specialty foods like tupig, a much love dessert from the Ilocos region, where some of my ancestors lived.
The long spinedly woody part that runs through the fronds can be gathered up together to make a good stick broom called walis tingting in the Philippines.
The trunk of the tree is solid and strong hence it is known to be used in making wooden bridges and huts. In fact there is a beautiful building in the Philippines called the Coconut Palace, a project of Imelda Marcos.
The ‘water’ from a young or mature coconut fruit is a delicious thirst quencher.
The shell from the fruit can be made into charcoal.
This is my favourite, have fun polishing your floor and get good exercise by using the coconut husk.
These are just a few where you can use the coconut, the tree of life.
But having said that falling coconuts have killed more people that by shark attacks!
The words timber and lumber are often interchanged in their usage.
I have to admit I sometimes forget the difference. So I used a visual memory by remembering Hollywood films, where the lumberjacks would shout ‘TIMBER’ as a tree which just been cut from the bottom would fall.
Timber is the tree trunk, while a lumber is a long wood material sawn from the timber.
When I think of lumber, it always remind me of the Monty Python I am a Lumberjack ditty. 🙂 🙂 🙂
By the way you can tell the age of a tree by counting the growth rings.
Liriodendron tulipifera Aureomarginatum, commonly known as Tulip Tree
Autumn Arrives in London
As our summer season ends and so autumn arrives in London and Great Britain.
The word autumn has ancient roots alluding to the passing of the year. In the USA and some parts of the world this season is called ‘the fall’.
This year, we have had mixed weather, from a wet and cold winter through a sunny and wet spring rolling into a sunny and wet summer.
We had two of the hottest days in September for over 100 years, with temperature reaching nearly 32C (89F).
Yes the British weather can still excite conversation among Brits. 😉
It is still quite mild with rain and sunshine and I can still wear a T shirt, without feeling cold. 🙂
The most common sign that autumn is approaching is when the leaves on deciduous trees. change colour from their spring and summer colour of green, to browns,yellows, reds and orange.
The leaves then soon after start to fall from their twigs and branches.
In autumn, some of the trees produce spectacular colour combinations of the above.
Deciduous is a Latin term meaning “falling off at maturity”
Leaves that fall off their tree branches in autumn are from the broad leaf type, having large areas to soak up the sun.
Trees that have these types of leaves need maximum food and energy to grow and produce fruit, such as apples, pears and berries etc.
These leaves have reached maturity by the end of summer using up the green chlorophyll pigment they contain to produce energy and food via photosynthesis for the tree in spring & summer.
As the daylight grows shorter with the arrival of the colder days of autumn and winter, the leaf receives decreasing amounts of warm sunlight.
The leaf can no longer produce enough food for it’s tree, therefore it will trigger a kind of self destruct sequence.
As the temperature lowers, the leaves try and remain above freezing to provide nourishment to the tree until the last possible moment.
As the green pigment fades in the leaf, other pigments appear, which were masked by the dominant chlorophyll.
One pigment is carotenoids, which produce rich yellow, orange and brown colours, such as in carrots, banana peel, pumpkins.
Another pigment produced is called anthocyanins which are mainly red and purple.
As autumn progresses, the leaves become weaker, insects feed and worsening weather take effect.
Within the stem of a leaf which is attached to it’s branch is the abscission layer, which chokes of the leaf veins that transfer water and food to the tree via the branch.
This further decays and weakens the leaf and stem, so the leaf becomes detached from it’s branch and so falls to the ground, it’s important work done.
Evergreen trees retain their leaves through cold freezing winter weather, because their smaller area leaves, some are needle shapes have a coating of a wax that helps protect them from the extreme cold.
Photo by PH Morton
Enjoy these wonderful seasonal colours and think of the sacrifice the leaf made to produce them.