UKTC Archive

RE: Piptoporus & Fomes on birch - distribution

Subject: RE: Piptoporus & Fomes on birch - distribution
From: Tim Scott-Ellis
Date: Dec 29 2006 10:05:23

When in Aberdeen we saw lots of Fomes on the birch, when in Hampshire only
Piptoporus, though we did see Fomes (incorrectly identified by myself and
swiftly put right by the good Mr Kowalczyk) on a mature beech.

This only conrims the general north/south thing but I have no idea whether
either species is moving, though, given that many species are, it wouldn't
surprise me.


-----Original Message-----
From: Pete Hughes [] 
Sent: 28 December 2006 19:29
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Piptoporus & Fomes on birch - distribution

Hello all,
/As an escape from Christmas, I took the dogs for a walk on Boxing Day 
to Holme Fen, a National Nature Reserve just south of Peterborough. The 
vegetation here is in the early stages of ecological succession (having 
been drained in the 1800s) with the majority of the trees being Birch, 
slowly being succeeded by Oak. The soil is very peaty and subsequently 
there is a lot of wind throw - the root plates of thrown trees are very 
shallow (often no more than 20-30cm), most likely to be as a result of 
the high water-table and the impervious blue clay not far below the 
surface. What I find most interesting is that there are also substantial 
numbers of brackets of Piptoporus betulinus and Fomes fometarius to be 
found on standing and fallen birch trees in various states of decay. I 
would guess that there are roughly equal numbers of brackets of both 
species, which got me thinking about the distribution of the 2 species 
in the UK - the literature generally agrees that Fomes is more common in 
the north, while Piptoporus predominates in the south.

I'm curious to know your experiences of these species. Does one or other 
specie appear exclusively in the north/south, or do both occur but in 
varying proportions? What would be the reason - does one occupy an 
ecological niche over the other that results in it's predominance? I 
also wonder why both appear in equal numbers at Holme Fen - perhaps it's 
due to the 'cornucopia' of a suitable food source (i.e., thousands of 

If you're ever in the area, I'd recommend a visit to Holme Fen. Two 
points of interest are that (1) it is the lowest place in Britain, being 
2m below sea level, and (2) the Holme Fen Posts, 2 cast iron posts which 
were both sunk vertically into the peat in the 1800s, so the tops were 
flush with adjacent ground. One of them (buried in 1852) is reputed to 
have come from Crystal Palace. As a result of the drainage of the Fens, 
the peat has decomposed aerobically and the ground level has dropped 
such that the tops of both posts are now about 4m above ground level - 
hence the reason why the underlying clay is now nearer to the surface.

Be interested to hear your thoughts.



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