Niall Benvie - Atlantic oak forest


Atlantic oak forest, clinging on in scraps and fragments to the ragged western fringes of Europe, is often referred to as temperature rainforest. And in the case of the Isle of Mull, where this picture was taken, the description is an apt one; about 1 metre of rain falls here annually. While not especially rich in ground flora (the sour ground it often grows on and “woolly locusts” – sheep – see to that) the array of mosses, lichens, ferns and liverworts that festoon the trees is extraordinary.

These trees live hard lives, bending their boughs in response to the steady passage of the the wind, spreading their roots far where the bedrock is in danger of surfacing and leafing out only once the arrival of warmer temperatures seems assured. But looking up through the emerging canopy to a blazing white spring sky with the song of wood warblers ringing in my ears, I know I am in a happy place.

Tags: Atlantic oak forest, Hebrides, high key, Mull, natural, Niall Benvie, oak, old, Quercus petraea, scotland, sessile, twisted, woodland

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