Trinity College Trees Booklet

Trinity Trees book - front cover- Oregon Maple.jpg

Trinity College Dublin have compiled and printed a booklet entitled Trees of Trinity College Dublin. A third edition was printed in 2011 and it lists many of the trees to be found on campus. This booklet was jointly edited by David W. Jeffrey and Daniel L. Kelly, the later of which we are delighted to say will be consulting with us on some of the botany aspects of this project.

The booklet groups the various trees on campus into three sections. Each section is called a circuit and lists all the trees to be found in a particular area on campus. Circuit A encompasses the Front Square and Library Square. Circuit B includes trees situated in New Square and House 40 gardens. The final Circuit C covers all the trees in College Park.

Trees of Trinity College booklet-List of trees-tcd map-three tree circuts

Trees of Trinity College booklet also gives specific details on a select number of significant trees, three of which will be included in our project. These trees are the Hop Horn Beam, the Oregon Maple and the Cabbage Tree (Cordyline Palm). See below images of two of the listings in the booklet.

Trinity Trees book-Hop horn beam tree information.jpg

Trinity Trees book - Cabbage tree information

Science Notes: Autumn Cherry Blossom


These scanning electron microscope pictures show a tiny part of a flower from the autumn-flowering cherry tree. It’s one of the stamens: the small round shapes are pollen grains.

Autumn Cherry Flowers fig1.jpg

Pollen carries the reproductive cells (gametes) produced in the male parts of flowering plants. It may be annoying to those of us who suffer from hay fever and other allergic reactions to airbourne pollen, but it’s vital for many plants to spread pollen around so that the male cells will encounter female cells in the pistils of other plants.

There are many different types of pollen, and the size and shape of pollen grains varies a lot from plant to plant, so the microscopic analysis of pollen can be very useful in forensics and archaeology. This SEM image shows some of the weird and wonderful shapes of different pollens (the colours are artificial – SEM doesn’t do colour but the colour can be added later just for fun):

Autumn Cherry Flowers fig2

Source: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bees and other insects eat pollen: for them it’s a vital food source. Lately some people have been selling bee pollen for human consumption. It probably won’t do you any harm (unless you’re allergic to it of course, in which case it might kill you) but there’s no scientific evidence that it will do you any good either, so I’m going to keep away from it.


Science Notes: Plane Tree Nodules

The nodules on the plane trees give them an unusual knobbly shape. They are also unusual when viewed at high magnification in the scanning electron microscope. This SEM photo shows a rather messy, chaotic structure…

Plane Tree Nodules fig1 …which is very different from that of normal wood. For example here’s a picture Clodagh took of a twig from the Oregon maple, at the same magnification:

 Plane Tree Nodules fig2 This remarkably regular pattern of cells makes the wood very strong and light. The nodule is also made of cells, but they have grown in a chaotic, random pattern, creating material which is much weaker. This explains why these trees have made very thick trunks to support their weight. Nodular wood is much sought-after by woodturners because it makes a beautiful patterned surface when made into, for example, a bowl, but they know to treat it very carefully because it breaks easily.

Not all the wood in the plane trees is chaotic though. Clodagh found this area where the tree has managed to get back to something approaching a regular cellular structure:

Plane Tree Nodules fig3



Sampling – the sage plant

David Hackett cutting samples from the sage plant in the Medicinal garden outside the Science Gallery.

Although the sage plant is obviously not a tree we were keen to include it as it will add extra sensory and healing aspects to the project.  

We also expect to get some wonderful images of the hairy surface of the sage leaves.