Country Life Today: The dying tree kept alive by its children

Today's news round up explores how an incredible root system kept a felled tree alive, discovers the best places you can visit to keep cool in this heatwave and finds out how to make a swimming pool out of a skip.

How trees can save each other from dying with linked root systems

Lord Of The Rings and Pocahontas have tried to tell us before, but this latest finding proves once and for all that trees are much smarter than we think.

While hiking in New Zealand, Professor Sebastian Leuzinger and his friend Martin Bader came across a stump with no leaves or branches, clearly felled long before. However, when examining it closer, they found the stump still had living tissue.

The tree had been living ‘like a patient on life support’, thanks to its roots fusing with its surrounding offspring long before it died. This root system fed the stump with the nutrients it needed to survive.

As well as nutrients, some scientists believe that trees can send distress signals through their roots, or even through the air. For example: ‘when a giraffe eats an acacia tree, it pumps out ethylene gas. Other trees pick this up and transfer unpleasant-tasting tannins into their leaves.’

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Full story (The Times) 

Quote of the day

Alice In Wonderland poster 1951. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)

‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Today in 1951, Alice In Wonderland, Walt Disney’s 13th animated film, premiered in London.

Where in Britain can you keep cool during the heatwave?

Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral, Somerset.

The most obvious answer may be at the office, as workplace air conditioning around Britain seems to be notoriously arctic, but that’s not going to help us much over the weekend.

Thankfully, the BBC has put together a handy list of places you can travel to in the UK to keep your cool.

Topping the list are the UK’s many castles and cathedrals, which are sure to be a few degrees cooler with their high ceilings and stone walls. Also recommended are the Wales’ slate caverns, as the Llanfair Slate Caverns near Harlech remain at a chilly 10c all year round.

Full story (BBC News)

Stat of the day


The temperature reached in Cambridge yesterday. Fortunately, England didn’t reach as high as France, which saw highs of 40.6c in Paris.

Full story (BBC News) 

The weed that’s taking over the Shropshire countryside

Himalayan Balsam Impatiens grandulifera) beside the River Severn, Atcham, Shropshire, England.

Overwhelming verges, fields and even rivers, the pretty pink weed Himalayan Balsam is reportedly ‘choking’ the Shropshire countryside.

Volunteers have been working to pull it up in the countryside and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s river project has also been doing its part, but residents still fear that the non-native plant is a threat to their native wildlife.

‘It is choking the streams and threatening not only our plant species, but also the habitats of water voles, otters and others.’ say Dr Steve and Mrs Heather Bond, a couple who live near Oswestry.

‘Although Himalayan Balsam is very easy to pull out before it seeds, persuading people to do so in their own areas is difficult because “its flowers are pretty.”‘

Full story (Shropshire Star) 

And finally…the best idea all summer

It’s a crazy idea, but someone had to have it.