Investigation: Branch Trap

Why are we doing it?
To find out what is living among the branches of the tree

How long will it take?
3 days

What do we need?

  • 2 litre bottle
  • String
  • Teaspoon
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Cotton wool
  • Corrugated card
  • Pencil
  • Blue tack

How do we do it?

  1. Cut the bottle in half so tha thte top half can be turned upside down to sit in it.
  2. Place a bit of corrugated card in the bottle to prevent concussion of any creature falling in.
  3. Put one teaspoon of sugar and cotton woll soaked in water in the bottle for creature nourishment.
  4. Make two holes in the bottom half of the container opposite each other by placing a ball of blue tack on the inside and stabbing a pencil through from the outside.
  5. Remove the blue tack and join the holes by tying a piece of string between them.
  6. Hang the bottle from a tree branch.
  7. After 3 days investigate the contents of the branch trap to find out what inhabits the tree.

Results
The branch trap did not work as well as anticipated and unfortunately proved inconclusive.

Categories: Tests and Studies

Investigation: Pitfall trap

Why are we doing it?
To find out which mini-beasts are living under the canopy of the tree in the leaf litter.

How long will it take?
3 days

What do we need?

  • Trowel
  • Clean, empty yoghurt pot
  • Teaspoon
  • Sugar
  • Slate

How do we do it?

  1. Using the trowel take out a piece of ground underneath the tree’s canopy
  2. Place the yoghurt pot in this hole
  3. Put one teaspoon of sugar in the yoghurt pot
  4. Using the sod removed from the ground place a slate at an angle over the yoghurt pot
  5. After 3 days remove the pot from the ground and see what mini-beasts it contains.

Results?
There were spiders, some droppings, and a ladybird found in the pot.

Categories: Tests and Studies

Tests and studies: Transpiration Tests

We can run transpiration tests to to find out where moisture exits the leaves.

How long will it take?
5 days

What do we need?

  • 4 sandwich bags
  • 4 15cm lengths of string
  • Vaseline
  • Millimetre measuring container

How do we do it?

  1. Pick four different leaves on the tree
  2. Place Vaseline on the top of one leaf
  3. Place Vaseline on the underside of the second leaf
  4. On the third leaf place Vaseline on the top and the underside of the leaf
  5. Don’t have any Vaseline on the final leaf as this will act as the control
  6. Place a sandwich bag over each of the four leaves
  7. Tie the bags tightly onto the tree using the string
  8. Come back after 5 days to investigate the results
  9. Pour the contents of each bag separately into the millimetre measuring container

My results?

That most moisture comes from the underside of the leaf. Stomata are the holes that allow moisture to escape from the leaves. They are concentrated mostly on the underside of the leaf.

Control – 7ml
Vaseline on top – 4ml of water
Vaseline on bottom – 2ml of water
Vaseline on both sides – 1ml of water

Categories: Tests and Studies

Tests and Studies: Chromatography

Chromatography is used to identify the range of colour in the leaf and takes about 27 hours.

What do we need?

  • Healthy, green leaves
  • Jam jar
  • Pestle and mortar
  • Nail varnish remover
  • Kitchen paper
  • Pen

How do we do it?

  1. Take a few single leaves and place them in the mortar.
  2. Using a twisting action, pound down on the leaves with the pestle to remove some of the leaf’s moisture and to break down the leaf’s walls.
  3. Places the crushed leaves in a jam jar.
  4. Pour the nail varnish remover (which contains acetone) on top.
  5. Place the lid on top of the jar and shake.
  6. After 24 hours wrap a piece of kitchen paper around a pen so that some kitchen paper reaches the liquid in the jar when the pen is placed horizontally over the top of the jar.
  7. Leave for 2 hours.
  8. Monitor the colour on the kitchen paper.

My results?

This leaf just contained a few levels of the colour green.

Categories: Tests and Studies

Tests and Studies: To Press and Dry Leaves

Why are we doing it?
So that the leaves will last forever

How long will it take?
7-10 days

What do we need?

  • Healthy, green leaves
  • 8 sheets of newspaper
  • A few heavy books
  • A radiator

How do we do it?

  1. Place 2 sheets of newspaper on the ground underneath the radiator
  2. Place the leaves flat on top of the newspaper
  3. Cover with another two sheets of newspaper
  4. Place heavy books on top
  5. After 3 days replace newspaper on top of and underneath the leaves
  6. After 7 days inspect leaves to see if they have been fully dried out

7.  If not, leave for another three days

My result

Flat dried leaves

Categories: Tests and Studies

Tests and Studies: Canopy

Here’s how to measure the amount of ground a tree covers – i.e. its ‘canopy’.

What do we need?

  • 8 small lengths of bamboo
  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper

How do we do it?

  1. Look up at the branches of the tree
  2. Mark the most outwardly branches by their corresponding point on the ground underneath.
  3. Place a bamboo stick in the ground at each of these points.
  4. Repeat 8 times, making sure that all around the tree is covered.
  5. Using the measuring tape measure the distance from each stick to the tree trunk.
  6. On a piece of graph paper, dot the centre (to represent the trunk).
  7. Include 8 dots representing each of the 8 bamboo sticks and their relevant measurements from the trunk.
  8. Let each square on the graph paper equal to one metre.
  9. Join up all the outside dots.
  10. Count all the squares included within this shape.

My results?

The area of the canopy of the ash tree is 16 square metres.

Categories: Tests and Studies

Tests and Studies: Age

Age
We can find the age of the tree by measuring its girth.

What do we need?

  • String
  • Calculator
  • Measuring tape

How do we do it?

  1. Starting form the base, measure 150cm up the tree
  2. From this point place the string around the trunk
  3. Measure the girth of the tree by finding out the length of the string that reached around the trunk of the tree
  4. Divide the girth of the tree by 2.5
  5. Take this result as the age of the tree.

My results?

The girth of my tree is 100cm. Therefore, my tree is approximately 40 years old.

Categories: Tests and Studies

The Ash Flower

Ash flowerThe flower of the Ash tree is dark purple, without petals, and is wind-pollinated (i.e. it does not need bees to help it fertilise). Unusually, in spring, its flowers appear before its leaves do.

The Ash tree is an unusual plant for another reason, though: it is possible for an ash tree to have both male and female characteristics, and therefore male and female flowers – the female flowers are a little longer than the male ones. What’s more, although individual trees usually produce all-male or all-female flowers, both can occur on the same tree – and it is possible for a tree that is all male one year to produce all female flowers the next, and vice-versa.

Categories: Tests and Studies

When my tree was planted…

In 1970…

  • The Beatles broke up – and all of them released a solo album
  • Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix both died of drug overdoses, both aged just 27 years old
  • Maya Angelou wrote ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’
  • Rhodesia won independence from Britain, was renamed Zimbabwe
  • An explosion on board Apollo 13 risked the lives of three men
  • Ireland’s Catholic Bishops lifted the ban on Catholics enrolling and attending courses in Trinity College
  • Anti-Apartheid protestors held demonstrations against the South African rugby team as they played Ireland in Lansdowne Road
  • The Brazil team – perhaps the greatest soccer squad ever to play the game – won the World Cup, beating Italy 4-1 in the final
  • Cork and Kerry won the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Titles respectively
  • Charles J Haughey was sacked as Minister for Finance after the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, accuses him of involvement in importing arms for Republican paramilitaries in the North

Here’s RTE’s take on the twelve months… :-)

Categories: The Project

Uses of Ash wood

Ash timber is hard, tough and very hard-wearing, with a coarse open grain. The light colour and attractive grain of ash wood make it popular in modern furniture such as chairs, dining tables, doors and flooring.

Ash is the only wood used for the manufacture of hurleys, used in hurling. Hurleys are manufactured from the butt log (the bottom 1.5m of the tree trunk). Unfortunately, due to the lack of available ash in Ireland, over 75% of the timber needed to produce the 350,000 hurleys required for the game annually must be imported, mostly from eastern European countries. Because of its high flexibility, shock-resistance and resistance to splitting, Ash wood is also used for tennis rackets and snooker cues, as well as being used in the handles of tools like hammers, and for making walking sticks.

Categories: The Project