Monday, March 30, 2009

Fraxinus sutura

‘Loop-trees’ prompt vandalism alerts

A row of oddly-shaped ashes bordering a popular lookout point have led to several erroneous reports to police that the trees have been mutilated.

Authorities near Epping Forest, Essex received another rash of calls from ramblers concerned about the row of Maltese looping ashes on Sunday.

Planted less than two years ago, the trees belong to a fast-growing Mediterranean species unknown to the area before the recent development of a cultivar conducive to UK climate.

On attaining a height of roughly 30 metres, the trunk begins to bend back toward the ground, continuing until the tip reaches the soil and takes root near the original base, forming the namesake “loop.”

From some angles, a mature specimen may appear to the uninformed as though it is being forcibly bent, tied down, or that its top has been sheared.

“When the ash starts its bending, it’s a very rapid process,” explained Dunnelda Kennings-Highbeech, spokeswoman for the City of London Corporation. “This clearing is a picturesque vantage spot for looking out on the heath, and the sudden change was alarming to a number of return visitors. But the trees are in fact fine.”

Kennings-Highbeech hastened to assure any concerned parties that the Epping Forest Keepers administer only the most essential pruning practices and do not engage in lopping, topping or flush cutting of any kind.

From: BBC News (27 March 2009). Retrieved on 2009-3-28.