Trees really are amazing aren’t they?
There’s so much variety and difference between them, isn’t there?
And you can see those differences most clearly in autumn when the trees produce their new fruit. There’s big hard nuts and tiny little seeds, shining bright red and glossy black berries plus much larger crunchy green apples and pears and luscious plums and more.
I mean wow!! Talk about variety!!
Different trees have come up with so many specialised ways of propagating themselves.
So why not hit your local park or woodland or just the playground or your street for an impromptu fall scavenger hunt and see all the different types of fall fruits you can find.
Our Fall Scavenger Hunt
In just one quick trip to our lovely local park – after spending the morning at the hospital with a lego up the nose incident! – we found all these different types of autumn fruit.
There were sweet chestnuts – see picture at top – and horse chestnuts with their spikey shells.
Those spikes carefully protecting from squirrel just a few big nuts until fully grown.
And ready to start – with help from squirrel who whisks the nuts away from the parent – the life of a new massive great tree.
But the seeds of the equally massive sycamore and maple are totally unprotected.
Encased in their familiar little helicopter wings, the seeds tumble down from mid summer on.
But those delicate wings are ingenious.
Spinning in the wind they distribute the tree’s seeds as far from the parent as possible.
Lots of other trees produce autumn seeds.
But they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
I love these long dangly seed heads on the hornbeams.
The seeds have grown out of the femail catkin, (the hornbeam has both male and female catkins).
And through autumn will continue to separate and flatten into separate seed pockets.
At which point the catkin will release its hold and let them fly into the wind.
The seeds of the silver birch tree also grow out of the female catkin.
In the picture above you can see the tiny little individual seed packets growing.
Again the catkin will hold on tight to the seed packets until the seeds are ready.
When they will be released into the wind.
And if you look closely you will see that each of those tiny seed packets is a miniscule version of the sycamore’s helicopter – perfectly shaped for flying as far as possible.
The London plane is another tree in which the seeds are grown out of the original catkin structure rather than in a new fruit.
But this time the catkin – and the seed head – is a round ball.
As the seeds mature and harden you’ll see the seed ball separate into hairy tufts.
Each tuft holding onto one seed.
When the seeds are ready the tufts will let them get airborne.
So the wind can waft them far away from the parent tree.
The familiar acorn of the oak tree is far too dense to get blown far on the wind.
And unlike the chestnuts has no spikey shell to protect it from squirrel.
Which would seem to make it very vulnerable.
But the clever oak tree has a symbiotic relationship with the squirrel.
Squirrel does eat alot of the acorns.
But an awful lot of those he bustles off and buries – away from the parent tree – he forgets about.
So the oak tree is quite happy to hand over lots of its yummy little acorns to squirrel.
Because it’s the easy access yumminess that makes squirrel take and bury so many.
And in fact lots of trees have a complicated relationship with the creatures who feed on their fruit.
The hawthorn’s berries are bright red to attract the birds.
Blackbirds, thrushes, starlings and lots of the finches all love them.
And they all help the tree by pooing the berry’s seeds out later!!
But the hawthorn doesn’t want one greedy starling to sit and munch the lot.
So its thorns ration each bird’s helpings by making it a bit to tricky to eat lots.
So there you go, in just seven trees in our local park, we found all sorts of different ways in which trees grow and distribute their autumn fruit.
Why don’t you go out and see what autumn fruits you can find on your local trees.
They might not be exactly the same as ours.
And you know what?
Between me and you it really doesn’t matter if you don’t know the trees’ names.
JUST look out for all the differences in the tree’s autumn fruit.
Are they nuts? Are they seeds? Are they berries?
Are they big? Are they small?
Are they protected by spikey shells or branches?
Are they bright or dull?
Will they fly through the air? Or drop straight to the ground?
Just get out and explore and see what you can find.
And for simple more ideas to help you explore the nature around you with kids do check out my other nature notes and sign up for my newsletter …
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