Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Newsletter Mini Challenges

I just sent out my latest newsletter (you can subscribe at the bottom), which included the four mini challenges below:

Answers at the bottom.

1. The two leaves above were taken from the same copper beech tree, one from the north side, one from the south. But which is which?

2. What is the name of the above plant, what is it a sign of and where are you likely to find it?

3. What direction are we looking in the above picture?

Study the broad patterns in the water in the image above for a moment. The wind is coming from the left of the picture. Now look at the image below, taken at about the same time.

4. What would we find if we walked to the right of the picture and why?


1. The leaf on the left was plucked from the north side of the tree, the one on the right from the south. Broadleaved trees have sun and shade leaves. The sun leaves are usually smaller and lighter in colour and are more common on the south side. Copper trees have more copper colour in direct sunlight.

2. This is pineappleweed (matricaria discoidea). It is a trampling-tolerant plant and therefore a sign of footfall by people or animals. It is regularly found on paths. Squeeze the florets between your thumb and fingers for an enjoyable pineapple scent.

3. We are looking east. This is a classic ‘tick effect’ (US: ‘check effect’) in the tree. There are fewer branches on the left, north, side of the tree and they are growing closer to vertical. There are more branches on the right, south, side and they are growing closer to horizontal.

4. If we walked to the right of the picture… we would walk into woodland.

In the first image we can see the trees on the island create a wind shadow – the water is calm on the downwind side and darker because there aren’t big enough ripples to reflect the light back to us.

If we look at the second picture, we can see the same effect to the right of the picture and the wind shadow is so complete that it can only have been created by tall woodland. Look closely at the light rippled water and you will spot the small wind shadow (the darker patch at the right side of the light area) created by the small tree in the foreground of the picture.

If you enjoy these sorts of challenges you can subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of this page. I also post similar things on Twitter and Instagram occasionally.