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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


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Tree Project.

Laburnum - Golden Rain.

The Laburnum family is very small and consists of only 2 main species that have been hybridised to give many varieties. The species are Laburnum Anagyroides, or common laburnum, and Laburnum alpinum, or Alpine Laburnum. Typically, Laburnums are small, but fast growing trees that will reach their full size of about 25 feet, or so in just 15 years. They are short lived trees though, only surviving about 30-40 years. Laburnums are native to the mountains of Southern Europe and were introduced into the UK in about 1560.
Laburnums will naturally grow as a multi-branched tree, or can be pruned to grow as a straight trunk. Coming from a mountainous region it is not surprising that they do not like hot summers, or wet roots that will make them prone to root fungus.

Golden Rain Trees, as they are sometimes known, are Legumes and as such are a member of the Pea Family. They have the same characteristic hanging seed pods, but unlike Peas, their seeds are very poisonous and indeed all parts of the tree are very poisonous. If you cut a Laburnum Tree down you should not even burn the wood as that too is poisonous. Any branches that are pruned out should be safely disposed of. If pruning needs to be done it should be carried out in spring, or summer to prevent the sap from “bleeding.”
Laburnums are sometimes called “Golden Chain,” or “Golden Rain,” because of their spectacular, hanging, bright yellow flowers that come in May, or June. Even though the Trees are very poisonous, Bees love their flowers and some Caterpillars such as the Laburnum Leaf Moth will feed off their leaves. Their prolific Flowers do, quite naturally, produce large amounts seeds that can germinate on the surrounding ground if allowed to.

Although the wood of the Laburnum is poisonous it has long been used for cabinet making and inlay work, as well as making musical instruments such as recorders and flutes. In the past, it was even used to make Highland Bagpipes. The wood of Laburnums is a very hard wood with yellow sapwood and the Heart Wood is particularly attractive so it has long been used in place of Ebony and Rosewood.


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