• Black pop down

    Over the last year there has been much activity around Herefordshire checking out the numbers of native black poplars. A mid 90s survey and a follow-up in 2002 logged a total of 168 individuals, but since then there appears to have been a decline in numbers. Initially, in 2016, 136 of the original list were located - the rest having disappeared either through natural causes such as storm damage or simply falling apart due to neglect and old age (particularly abandoned pollards) or through felling. During 2016 a concerted effort was made to try and discover new trees that had not been previously recorded, and when I last heard some 10 or 12 new discoveries had come to light. This is still a very slender population for the whole county.

    This mature specimen - seemingly a maiden tree, but possibly an outgrown pollard, stood on the edge of a strip of woodland alongside water meadows, near the River Lugg, at Bodenham. You can see from the photos that it was actually perched above a small drainage ditch - an ideal location for black pops. I photographed the tree in November last year and was blithely unaware of the fragile state of its great bole. At some point in February the whole tree crashed to the ground (I noticed it about two weeks back, but didn't have a camera with me). I went back yesterday and made a few pictures of the sorry scene. I have to wonder whether it was the dense sheath of ivy around the trunk that might have been helping to hold it erect for some time. As you can see from the rotted stump its days have clearly been numbered for quite some time.

    Thank goodness it wasn't a windy day back in November. I think Molly appreciated that point too.

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