Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Pine trees can leave me a bit cold – I’m thinking of David Bellamy’s “arboreal slums” – lines of monotonous ever-greens in dark plantations that support relatively little wildlife. But we don’t have too many of these around Otley, and we do have some great examples of my favourite pine, with their twisting, serpentine branches and distinctive reddish bark. The Scots Pine in my photo is in the cemetery, and there are a few down East Busk Lane and others on the Chevin, for example. Aphids can represent a significant threat to Scots Pines, particularly through their ability to reproduce sexually and asexually at an incredibly prolific rate, so the trees have developed a cunning defence strategy. When under attack they give off a fragrance that attracts ladybirds to feed on the aphids – in fact the ladybirds’ sensitivity to this smell is akin to a shark's for blood in the water. Scots Pine pollen emissions can be so dense that they are mistaken for forest fires.
Photos by Pixabay and Neil Griffin