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June hedgerow, trees and berries

Other June pages: Meadow and field flowersWayside flowersDownland and seaside flowersBirds Butterflies and insectsWeather

Picture: dog rose. Click here for more June hedgerow, tree and berry photos.

June is a great month for hedgerow flowers, in particular dog rose, which is out from the start of the month (not till the fourth week in 2013) and lasts till the third or fourth week. Dog rose flowers are usually pink but can be so pale as to be white. From mid month you may also see the white field rose, which can be identified by its column-like central style (where the dog rose has more of a low mat). Cultivated rose gardens (for example in Hyde Park, Regents Park or at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire) are at their best early in the month.

Another kind of rose, bramble, flowers right from the start of June (though not till the end of June in the late springs of 2006, 2010 and 2013), the amount of flowers increasing as the month goes on. In a normal year many are over by the end of the month and you start to see green unripe blackberries, but some blooms continue into July. It is normal to see both berries and flowers on the same bush. Raspberry, whose foliage looks so similar to bramble as to be often overlooked, but which is nevertheless sometimes found in the wild, produces very inconspicuous white flowers in May, some of which may last into early June.

Elderflowers continue to offer splash of white across hedgerows and field margins for the first three weeks or so of June (starting and ending a week later in 2006, 2010, 2015 and 2021, but a week earlier in 2008, 2011 and 2020: lasting all month in 2012 and 2013). They tend to flower in phases, with some flower heads out and others going over. In the first week or so of the month you may also just see some surviving flowers of guelder rose - strange blooms with large petals on the outside (which are apparently sterile) and small ones in the middle which look like they are only half out. In a very few years hawthorn and spindle flowers also last into the first week.

New arrivals in June include dogwood, whose white flowers may appear in the first week of June or even at the end of May, but mostly come out in the second week (not till the second half in 2015 and the end of the month in 2013) and last about a fortnight. Also from the second week onwards privet - both the garden hedge variety (if not trimmed back too much) and the wild version, which has narrower leaves - produces white flowerheads with an intensely sweet aroma, though this is another shrub where flowering can be quite phased, with some flowers out and others just budding.

A very characteristic flower of June is honeysuckle which appears early in the month (not until the second half in 2015, 2021 and 2023, and the end of the month in 2010 and 2013) and goes on to last, in places, for all of the summer. Other hedgerow climbers in bloom include white bryony, whose pale, almost green flowers can be seen throughout the month, and black bryony, which has much smaller flowers, along with distinctive heart-shaped leaves, and tends to be over by mid month. It can already be producing green berries later in June, which is also true of woody nightshade (also known as bittersweet), whose inverted purple flowers appear early in the month and may just be joined by green berries in the second half: ie you often see both on the same plant.

From the first or second week you see the big white trumpets of large or hedge bindweed (the two species are hard to tell apart) sprawling across hedgerows and other scrub, and from mid month you get the showy pink broad-leaved everlasting pea, often in the vicinity of gardens, though also elsewhere, such as along railway lines. In similar habitats Russian vine starts to flower in white cascades, sometimes earlier in the month but more usually towards its end. The tendrils and buds of traveller's joy (wild clematis) straggle across wayside shrubs and fences on chalky soils, but it is not yet in bloom - except maybe right at the end of the month on the south coast.

On suburban wasteground, though also in rural spots such as clearings in woods, the very common buddleia may be starting to flower as early as the third week, though the end of the month or even July is when it comes out more generally. Once it does, it is a significant source of colour and very attractive to insects and butterflies, showing that not all invasive species are a bad thing.

Also on suburban wasteground, as well as in gardens and parks, three shrubs bloom at this time of year whose berries are conspicuous in midwinter. Snowberry has tiny pink flowers, which will later turn into the white-globed fruits which remain on its bare branches in winter, while firethorn (aka pyracantha), whose orange or red berries are an important food for birds in November and December, briefly explodes into a mass of white flowers early in the month, if it has not done so in late May. Cotoneaster, which sports bright red berries in winter, also produces its off-white flowers sometime in during June (it is quite variable from place to place and year to year).

In addition tutsan, a garden escapee, flowers in mid to late June, its yellow and then red berries appearing almost immediately. The striking white flower spikes of the semi-wild portugal laurel tend to be at their best in the second and third weeks.

Rhododendron's garish pink flowers can still be seen in the first half of June, while some laburnum (and much more rarely wisteria) flowers can survive into early June in parks and gardens (and sometimes semi-wild situations in the case of laburnum).

On heathland and along the edge of rail lines you can still see broom in flower in the first half: later in the month it puts out greeny-grey seed pods. Gorse has brown pods which open to show the green or grey seeds inside.

Tree seeds and nuts

At start of the month the female catkins of white and crack willow are still dispersing their fluffy seeds and the air is full of them floating around. This can carry on till mid month or even a bit later. The catkins then fall to the ground, but some brown ones may remain on the tree.

On many other trees - for example ash, hornbeam, Norway maple and field maple - the seeds are fully formed (though in 2022 there were very few ash seeds, for some reason). Sycamore has seeds too, but they may remain quite small (in a horseshoe shape) in places until quite late in the month. In the first week, there may even be some sycamore flowers still transitioning into seeds.

Mostly these seeds remain on the tree but ash, sycamore and field maple can sometimes shed a few, either due to the intervention of squirrels, the wind or rain, or because the tree regards them as surplus to requirements. (If squirrels are involved, you can see a neat slit in the sycamore seed case.) Sycamore and field maple seeds sometimes take on a reddish tinge.

Beech also has fully formed nut cases, still green at this stage, though with brown hairs, while on alder the new green cones start the month as thin green cylinders and then grow to full size during the month: some of last year's brown desiccated ones remain on the branch too. Birch has a cylindrical green fruit which looks like a fat catkin. There are green seed balls on London plane, not all of which may yet be full-sized, and the tree may still have brown ones from the previous year. Acorns on oak trees start to grow, starting as little nodules early in the month, and getting to pea-sized towards its end, though this varies from tree to tree.

The May blooms on horse chestnuts have given way to tiny green conkers, which at first sit erect on the remains of the flower spikes. Many soon fall off, but the survivors grow to around half their final size by the end of the month, by which time they are hanging below the branches instead of sitting above them. Since 2006 the trees have also started to develop a leaf blight in the second half of June, caused by a leaf mining moth, though in 2019 and 2023 many were only mildly affected and in 2021 there was no blight whatsoever this month. In 2022 it was very variable from tree to tree and mostly confined to lower branches. In June 2012 many sycamores on the south coast developed wilted leaves, something also seen later in the summer in 2019 and (to a small extent) 2020.

Early in the month hazel has new nut buds. By the end of the month the nuts can be fully formed, though still unripe, but on some trees this does not happen till July. (In 2022 there seemed to be no hazelnuts at all.) New larch cones are now full-sized and brown and only distinguishable from last year's (which remain on the tree) due to their smooth exterior.

By contrast, some trees are still flowering. In very late springs (such as 2016 and 2021) whitebeam (both common and Swedish) may still be in flower at the very start of the month. Otherwise, from quite early in June long tassels appear on sweet chestnut, though they do not actually flower till late in the month or early July, when they produce a sickly-sweet scent. Lime flowers also have a sweet aroma when they appear in the last third of the month, though less strong than that of sweet chestnut. These two trees are the last to flower in the south east, the end of a sequence that started with hazel catkins in January or February.

Berries and fruit

Look closely and you can see that berries and fruit are starting to appear, most notably on wild cherry trees, which can have ripe red fruit as early as the third week of June (the first week in 2011 and in places in 2022, the second week in 2012 and in places in 2020). They are rather small compared to commercial cherries and many are instantly eaten by birds. Some trees do not produce them at all.

Further inspection reveals all sorts of green berries, some of which are initially concealed by the remains of the flowers: for example green haws on hawthorn (some of which may start reddening later in the month, but this is not generally supposed to happen until late July or August), green sloes on blackthorn bushes, and - towards the end of the month - green hips hidden in the detritus of faded dog roses.

Dogwood, elder and firethorn also develop tiny green berries almost as soon as they finish flowering, and you can see fuller-sized green berries on whitebeam, guelder rose, spindle and holly. Those on cherry laurel are about two thirds size and oval. As mentioned above, you may see green berries on the climbers woody nightshade or black bryony at the very end of the month. Rowan berries turn from green in the first part of the month to brown, occasionally even orange-brown, at its end, while those on wayfaring trees (a shrub, often found on downland) may start to take on a reddish tinge at the same time.

Apples start the month little bigger than cherries and grow to about half their final size during the month, though this varies from tree to tree, while crab apples grow to about two thirds of their final size. You may also spot unripe plums and cherry plums. Late in the month you can occasionally find ripe raspberries in the wild, about a third to a half the size of commercial ones, and very delicious: sometimes also tiny wild strawberries low to the ground on path verges.

The strange green clusters of berries you see near the ground on shady verges and in woodland belong to cuckoo pint. By the end of the month they may be starting to ripen to orange or red. Fading rhododendron flowers leave behind green cylinders at the bottom of the flower stalks, which are their seeds.

More June pages:

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