The Marcescence Of Treflach

When I was young I wrote to a local newspaper about an anomaly with a local deciduous tree - every winter it kept its leaves, however they were not interested, so I kept observing it over the years. Marcescence, from the Latin to fade, is what occurs every autumn due to cooler temperatures and falling light levels. This signals enzyme production to stop in a tree causing an abscission layer to form, sealing the tree sap system off until the warmth of spring causes the buds to burst back into life.

Pictured is the Ice Age Oak photographed on 24 12 22. Unlike juvenile trees that sometimes retain their leaves this is a veteran tree that produces acorns. Given that temperatures got to minus 7 degrees centigrade two weeks before being photographed it shows how resilient it is.

Our hirsute, brute ancestors worshipped trees like this as they were a place of shelter, safety and refuge. The fruit they shed was food for animals that could be hunted and wood for the fire to cook them on. Wood was also the raw material of all early inventions and when you encounter this tree for the first time on a cold winters day it really does take you back in time.