Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and Photographed by © Brian Ecott

FLORA

Autumn fruits, seeds and nuts

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SYCAMORE seeds are winged and known as helicopters from their spinning flight. This makes the sycamore a successful coloniser,

FIELD MAPLE seeds are also winged, but not curved down as in the sycamore

HORSE CHESTNUT 'CHEESERS'

Two Conkers in a shell were known as 'Cheesers' because of their flat sides. Not edible.

SWEET CHESTNUT is a favourite roasted at Christmastide. In the forest the chestnuts do not fully mature every year. Sought out by squirrels and small mammals. HOPS for flavouring (and barley) were grown in Hainault Forest before disafforestation and sent to the breweries in London. A few plants are still found in the forest.

HAWTHORN berries are a favourite with Redwings and Fieldfares who visit the forest in the winter months. The fruit can be made into a jelly. WHITEBEAM is related to the Rowan and its fruits are edible. ROWAN berries are also sought after by our winter visitors Fieldfares and Redwings. Rowan jelly accompanies lamb or game dishes.

ROSE HIPS

High in Vitamin C they were  collected by schoolchildren during the Second Word War to make Rose Hip Syrup.

LONDON PLANE

The ball-like seed heads remain on the tree, falling in the spring to release the seeds.

BLACKBERRIES

A favourite fruit eaten fresh, or made into purée, or jam. A source of food for birds, mammals, wasps, butterflies and other insects

ENGLISH or PEDUNCULATE OAK

The acorns of Pedunculate Oak are attached to a long stalk. Pigs were released into the Forest to forage for them. Known as Pannage.

TURKEY OAK

The acorn cup is covered in long scales, and has a very short stalk.

As with the other acorns it is eaten by Jays, squirrels and small mammals.

HOLM OAK

The Holm oak is an evergreen tree, and the leaves are unlike all other species of oak in the forest. The acorns are attached to a stalk and the cup has fine scales.

ALDER CONES

In autumn, next years green cones are evident, whilst black cones if present have already released their seeds.

SLOES, the fruit of Blackthorn. A bitter fruit can be used in mixed hedgerow jams, or to flavour gin.

ELDERBERRIES are used in wine making, and there is a French jam recipe.

WOODY NIGHTSHADE also known as BITTERSWEET with its bright red berries climbs in the scrub area and path edges. The berries are POISONOUS.

WHITE BRYONY

Related to the Cucumber, the berries of this hedgerow climber are VERY POISONOUS

MULBERRY

Although related to the fig, the Mulberry produces succulent fruits which can be eaten raw or made into jam.

SPINDLE berries are found on the path from the Common to Cabin Hill. They are pink with orange seeds. They are POISONOUS and strongly purgative. BUCKTHORN berries like the Spindle (left) are found on the path from the Common to Cabin Hill and are also strongly purgative. Both these berries would have been known to Old Dido a herbalist who lived near Sheepwater at the turn of the 20th century.

CRAB APPLE

were a food source for deer when they once roamed the Forest. Now used to make Crab Apple Jelly and as a source of Pectin for jam making

WILD PEAR

Found on the Hainault Lodge Local Nature Reserve

BEECH MAST

The cupules or mast split into 4 and release two triangular seeds.

HORNBEAM

A southern England species. The seeds are winged to help dispersal. The nuts are favourites with Woodmice and Bank voles,  and many birds including the Hawfinch.  Photo: © Vic George

ASH

The bunches of winged seeds are referred to as "keys" and remain on the tree for a while, after the leaves have dropped

COMMON LIME

The seeds are attached to a parachute, which helps to distribute the seed away from the parent tree.

LESSER BURDOCK

Related to the thistle and dandelion, the Burdocks have a seed head which contains many tiny hooks which catch on clothing or animal fur to be distributed widely.

THISTLE DOWN

Each seed is held by a parachute of pappus. Carried a long distance by the wind. Thistle seed is a favourite of Goldfinches.

BLACK BRYONY Another hedgerow climber with red berries, but not related to the White bryony above, but to the Yam family. The berries are POISONOUS