On our way to the orchard we stopped in the shade of the two magnificent plane trees…..
that have stood near the terrace of the chateau for - oh - positively hundreds of years. You see, we were rather interested in where such amazing trees come from.
Of course we know that (most) plants grow from seeds - and we know that trees are plants (ergo [most] trees must have seeds).
Trees are BIG plants mostly. So, do BIG plants have just a few BIG seeds? I wonder. Can anyone find the seed from one of these BIG trees? Look up. Look down.
Ah - what’s that?
See that ball of fluff up there?
Well each ball (and yes, there are THOUSANDS of balls on such a BIG tree) has in it HUNDREDS of teeny tiny fluffy seeds. Just imagine if ALL of those HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of teeny tiny fluffy seeds sprouted into a new plane tree. There’d be HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of them.
Of course they don’t - birds (see that hungry sparrow up there?) eat some of them. So do small animals like mice. The wind takes some of them away. In fact, most of the seeds from a tree won’t make it to a new tree. But maybe one or two will, so continuing the life cycle of the tree. And that’s just the way it should be.
What about this BIG tree? This BIG weeping beech tree?
Run down the hill and nip in between those long drooping branches. Look on the ground. Bring me back a seed if you can.
Pretty easy to find aren’t they - or at least the hard hairy seed containers (or shells) are easy to find. Most of the tiny seeds (and again there will have been THOUSANDS of them) that were inside the shells you’ve collected will probably already have been eaten by hungry birds or mice. Look - here are some more seed containers, this time growing on a nearby copper beech tree.
They too have hard hairy shells - and here the tiny seed is still tucked safely inside, in a soft velvety case. Ready, mostly, to be eaten by hungry birds or mice once the hard hairy shells have popped open. All except maybe one or two which might make it to a new beech tree one day. To continue the life cycle of the tree. And that’s just the way it should be.
What about this weird tree. Christened by us in a previous school year as a tissue tree (and looking at these pictures taken one May a few years ago, you will surely see why!)
By now, the papery tissue-like petals have long since gone. Bees (or other insects) must have visited because look at the tree now.
Small green, shiny dangling seeds. HUNDREDS of them! Maybe one of which will grow eventually into a new tissue tree.
Not that we have many of this type of tree growing hereabouts…..
but what about the seeds of a TALL coconut palm tree? Are they also terribly small? Well, I’m not saying anything except that perhaps it is not terribly safe to sit underneath one when you are seeking shade from the tropical sun.
And now quickly to the orchard. Just to check up on how fat our baby apples have become. And on how much redder our almost-ripe cherries have become.
Fatter, definitely. But still not quite ready to eat (as Tanisha, our willing, and rather brave guinea pig, will attest). Not too sour but definitely not quite lunch-box material. Give it another month or two.
And as we saw when later we opened up a windfall…..
the seeds inside are still not ready either; they are still white, and not brown, as we know from earlier research that they should be when an apple is ready to eat - and its seeds ready to grow.
And next, to cherries.
Redder definitely. And definitely ripe. Dropping off the trees they were - in juicy handfuls! HUNDREDS of them!
Of course, those we took away with us were for research purposes only …