Barking mad

by James Alexander-Sinclair

In order to sharpen your winter brains I thought that a short quiz would be interesting...

Tree barkIt's January. The weather outside is pretty ghastly. There is not an enormous amount in the garden worth looking at so we must be more imaginative when seeking out our horticultural pleasures.

Often the mundane can be very beautiful if you look hard enough. The trees are (mostly) devoid of leaves so all we have left is bark. Not something we think about that much but something that can still be extraordinarily lovely. Think of the slightly stubbled beech, deeply furrowed walnut, or a smooth, lichen dappled ash. So in order to sharpen your winter brains I thought that a short quiz would be interesting. Can you identify the following trees from their bark? I have given hints for some...

A simple tree to start with.

This tree bark looks quite like an elephant's shin and is equally exotic.

This tree contains a mixture of London and Spain.

This tree is another easy one, no hint required.

Here is the evergreen version.

That old...

To save this becoming a rather long quiz I will stop there. If I could go on I would include so many more...what about a pomegranate? (I photographed this one growing in a huge pot in the Jardins de Luxembourg in Paris). Go out there and hug a tree: the neighbours may stare, your children will undoubtedly be completely mortified but you may feel a small part of the January blues fall away.

If anybody should get them all right then I will award them a loud and prolonged round of virtual applause - and a huge bunch of heavily scented imaginary flowers. Answers in a couple of weeks.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Barking mad
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 09/01/2008 at 12:39

Pretty good, Yakram, but one mistake.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/01/2008 at 17:26

what about a dogwood.

Gardeners' World Web User 09/01/2008 at 23:01

reply to Yakram regarding the tree quiz. Can you say that again in English for us not so latinised gardeners please. I thought the second tree was a monkey puzzle tree.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2008 at 22:48

reply to morning glory:

Sorry to be late in replying, not often on-line. James A-S says one is wrong, which I assume is what I said was Pine species (No.1). No.2. is as you say the monkey puzzle tree (the second name of this probably should be aurucana). No.3 is Spanish Plane and numbers 4 and 5 are Oak, one being evergreen, one being deciduous.

The beauty of Linnaeus's binomial Latin names for plants is that you can ask for a plant (using its Latin name) anywhere in the world, and not have to speak the native language. Common plant names can lead to confusion. e.g. Black-eyed Susan refers to both Thunbergia and Rudbeckia.

Do try Latin plant names as they can be fun - but not if you have to write hundreds of labels as I used to do when I worked in a nursery.

Gardeners' World Web User 17/01/2008 at 16:21

Hi Yakram. Still one wrong, I'm afraid. I never said it would be easy! I agree with you about the Latin: well worth getting through the initial confusion.

See more comments...