The trees - Orto botanico 'Pellegrini - Ansaldi'

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The trees
The European hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia Scop.)
It is from 2 to 10 m tall, with grey-brown and smooth cortex. It has elongated leaves, with serrated margin. It blooms between April and May, simultaneously with the growth of the leaves of the year; the male inflorescences are green-brown catkin, cylindrical, pendulous, long up to 15 cm. The female inflorescences, small at first, ripen giving shape to the infructescence. Each fruit, of small dimensions, is wrapped by a bract enclosed in itself to form a closed bladder, a sort of “small box” that facilitates the dispersion.
It is a frugal plant that lives on arid and rocky limestone soils, up to about 1000 m.
The manna ash (Fraxinus ornus L.)
It is a shrub or tree tall up to 10 m, with opposite branches. We have opposite and old-pinnate leaves, composed of 2-5 couples of elliptical leaves. There are flowers with four white petals, gathered in thick spikes. The fruit is a samara, with a wing of elliptical shape, long up to 25 mm, with the function of facilitate the dispersion of the seed.
It is a frugal species that occupies also poor soils.
It is cultivated in Sicily: you get from it a sap, the “manna”, that groans for the incision of the trunk; this sap is left to dry, collected and cut in cannoli 5 centimetres long. The manna contains mannitol; it is slightly laxative, emollient and expectorant. It is used also as a sweetener for diabetics.
The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth)
It is an elegant tree tall up to 20 m, with erect trunk.
It has a white cortex that flakes off transversely in thin-layer parchment.
It has triangular-rhombic leaves, with toothed and serrated margin; small crowns. The flowers are not much showy, gathered in catkin. The fruit is a very small nucule, that has two membranous wings that facilitate the dispersion.
On the Apuans we found it mostly on siliceous soils with good water availability.
The Turkey oak (Quercus cerris L.)
It is an oak with deciduous leaves, tall up to 25cm. The leaves fall off late, at the end of autumn. The leaves have a highly variable shape, lobed and rough on both sides. It has sharp lobes at the apex and quite deep: they arrive nearby the central vein.
The cortex cracks in plates among which emerges longitudinally the underlying layer (fellema) of red-orange colour. There is an acorn with a characteristic feature: they are wrapped at the base by a dome with a lot of long curved linear scales up to 1 cm.
It lives mostly on acid soils and fresh environments. On the Apuane, the forests with Turkey oak were in large part eliminated and replaced by chestnut grove.
The holm oak (Quercus ilex L.)
It is an evergreen oak that is tall up to 20 m, with dense and always dark green crown. The leaves are elongated, entire, dark green, glossy and coriaceous. Male flowers in catkins 4-6 cm long; they appear between April and June. Female flowers are little showy. The acorn is elongated and sharp at the apex, only half is wrapped by the dome.
It is the main component of the Mediterranean scrub, with other species “sclerophyllus evergreens”, plants with small leaves and covered by waxy materials, perfectly adapted to the long arid summer that characterise the Mediterranean climate.
On the Apuane, it lives on sunny steep big rocks, mostly limestone, up to 1000 m of altitude, as heterotopic species.
The European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.)
It is a tree tall up to more than 30 m, with smooth and dark grey cortex. It has a thick crown that are light green as young, darker in midsummer with a stalk of about 1,5 cm, elliptical shape and entire margin.
Male flowers gathered in short catkins (1-2 cm); the female ones, very small, later become in a reddish-brown fruit (nucule), entirely included in a wooden dome that at maturity opens in 4 or 5 valve, letting out the nucule, called “faggiole”.
In the past the wood of the European beech was largely used, or turned into vegetable carbon.
The whitebeam or common whitebeam (Sorbus aria (L. ) Crantz)
It is a tree tall up to 20 m, with oval-elliptical leaves long up to 10 cm with toothed margin, with dark green colour in the upper part and white tomentose in the lower part.
The flowers are white and of small dimensions, with 5 petals, gathered in showy corymbs, also tometose, of 20-40 flowers; the fruit is a pome, at first green and red when ripe, it is edible.
It lives in the wood of broadleaved; on the Apuane it is found on oak forests and beech wood.
The cotoneaster (Cotoneaster nebrodensis (Guss.) C. Koch)
It is a small tree that is from 1 to 3 m tall, with elliptical leaves, that is dark green in the upper part and grey-tomentose in the lower part.
The flowers are small, white, gathered in tops. The fruit, of about 7 mm of diameter, is red and sub-spherical.
It lives on the clearings of the woods of broadleaved and on sunny cliffs.
The yew (Taxus baccata L.)
All the plant, except the aril that cover the seed, is poisonous: from this derives also the vulgar name “tress of death”. It is a tree tall up to 20 m, with the leaves that are persistent, needle-shaped, flattened, dark green and lucid in the upper part, more light green in the lower part.
The flowers are of two types, brought on the same plant (monoic): the male ones are small globular cones inserted in the lower part of the branches; the female ones are isolated, put at the base of the leaves.
The poisonous seed is covered by a fleshy part called aril, of red colour, sweetish, edible.
It blooms from the end of the winter to the beginning of spring.
It appears sporadically on the Apuan Alps in the beech wood and has a wreckly character.
The holly (Ilex aquifolium L.)
It is a tree tall up to 20 m. the leaves are persistent, coriaceous, elliptical, lucid in the upper part with 6-8 stinging thorns per side and scalloped cartilaginous edge.
The flowers are small, mostly unisexual on dioecious plants, with white corolla for the male ones, trimmed in red for the female ones.
The fruit is a red and lucid globular drupe.
It blooms in April-May. It lives in chestnut groves and in the humid forests of broadleaved up to the mountain, preferably on acid soils.
The bay tree (Laurus nobilis L.)
It is an evergreen tree tall up to 10 m, with elongated, coriaceous, dark green leaves that are lucid in the upper part, lighter in the lower part, highly aromatic.
The flowers are small, yellow, gathered in inflorescences, mostly unisexual, that appear in March-April. The fruits, of about 1 cm, are black drupes, ovals, aromatic.
It lives in sunny places in the area of the olive tree, from 0 to 800 m of altitude.
The silver fir (Abies alba Miller)
It is an evergreen tree tall up to 40 m, with desquamated yellowish cortex. The leaves are needle-shaped, linear-flattened, long up to 2 cm, with two longitudinal white lines in the lower part.
The pine cones, of about 4 per 9 cm, are erect.
It lives in mountain forests in the area of the beech tree. It is frequently cultivated and used in the reforestation.
On the Apuan Alps, there is only one scarce population of European silver fir that is natural, with wreckly chacacter, in the area of Orto di Donna.
L'ORTO BOTANICO PIETRO PELLEGRINI, Un giardino alpino nel Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane
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