• Bernice Cooke

The Secret Life of Tree's

Oh to be a tree, to stand proudly with your feet buried in the deep earth and your head nearly touching the clouds, to clean the air, to shelter all creatures, what stories a tree could tell, living from year to year.

I walk and run below these mighty giant specimens every day and they never cease to amaze me, the sheer height the beautiful green canopy of shelter from the glorious sunshine or the damp rain.

These are beech trees, they are not a native species to Ireland and are sometimes known as the Mother of the Forest. Beech Trees or Fagus Sylvatica can grow to 90 or 100 feet, - pretty impressive.

They have huge domed crowns their bark is smooth, thin and grey often with horizonatal etchings. The fruit of the beech tree are beech nuts or mast - once fed to pigs and in France sometimes roasted and used as a coffee substitute, ( a note of which I have made in my diary for Autumn) an experiment I will have to try.

The young leaves are lime green with silky smooth hairs and the mature leaves are dark green and have no hairs. The beech tree is monoecious - meaning it has both male and female flowers on the same tree. In April and May tassl like male catkins hand from stalks and the female flowers grow in pairs surrounded by a cup, once wind pollinated the beech nuts are formed.

These magnificent trees are believed to have medicinal properties - the leaves were boiled to form a poultice to relieve swellings. Forked beech twigs were also traditionally used for divining.

Our beech trees have seen us grow from babies to adults, have celebrated weddings, funerals, births, parties, adventures, halloween ghost stories. They clean our air, offer protection to the smallest of creatures, have housed many feral colonies of cats, sheltered many of our stray dogs (who have now become part of our family). They have featured always in our lives standing tall and silent they have weathered many a storm. Hazarding a guess at their ages I would think they are at least 150 years old if not older and whispering to each other in the wind I'm sure they could tell us a lot of stories of the times that have passed.

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky"

- Kahlil Gibran -

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Killadulisk, Killimor, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway