Apple

Apple trees grow in several places around the Park. The area below golf club house has at least five trees, enough to be called an orchard?

Domesticated apples (Malus domestica) have been cultivated from the wild Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) which is now an uncommon tree in Scotland and doesn’t grow in Linn Park.

Domestic apples don’t breed true if raised from seeds and ‘wild’ domestic apples like these in the Park have been a source of new varieties and a genetic reservoir. Granny Smith reputedly grew first on an Australian compost heap.

Below the clubhouse is also the best site for brambles so you have the ingredients for a wonderful pie filling.

Bramble (Blackberry) - Rubus fructicosus

This is a widespread plant in Scotland and Linn Park. It is much loved in the late summer and early autumn when its delicious fruit can be picked and eaten as you walk. The best blackberries are the ones at the end of the shoot. They ripen first and are exposed to the most sun. It is said that the Devil spits on the berries on Michaelmas night (September 29th). This reflects that they are also food for many insect, birds and fungi. By October it is likely that they will have been visited by other wildlife before you, but I take the risk and have found them still to be wholesome well into November (that’s what stomach acid is for after all).

So where does one find the best patches ... see the map.

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Blackberrying is a long established custom, the seeds were found in the stomach of a Neolithic man dug up in Essex. Many areas had by-laws and rules in an attempt to stop "Townies" coming and "stealing" blackberries from the hedgerows. There are over 400 distinct microspecies of blackberry in the UK and few botanists can differentiate them and certainly not this one. They are divided into geographical clusters, but the shape of some of these clusters is interesting, as they spread along railways lines, many since closed. 

A blackberry bush left to its own devices will grow over 6m in a season (as many gardeners will confirm). These long arching stems were once known as "lawyers" because of the difficulty escaping once you happen to fall into their clutches. The next year this shoot will flower and produce fruit, then after one or possibly two more years it will die back. The dead stems retain their lethal thorns and so a bramble patch will become an impregnable thicket in a few years.

These thickets provide a valuable resource for wildlife to hide and nest. As they are a native species, they are host to many species of insects and other ‘creepy
crawlies’.

Raspberry - Rubus idaeus

The raspberries in Linn Park are on the edge of woods. The fruit are ripe usually by early July - so although they were running a bit late in 2015, in 2016 they are well ready despite the weather.

The raspberry is a native of Scotland and our climate suits them perfectly. It is not surprising that this species of Rubus are the most extensively cultivated. Compared with blackberries they lack spines and don’t spread everywhere as soon as your back is turned. Over in the East of Scotland raspberries seems to make new varieties and hybrids with alacrity.

Raspberry canes grow up to 2m high and fruit on canes in their second year and then die back. They spread mainly by suckers but also spread by birds and other spreading the seeds. They shrive in heaths, open woods and waste ground. The raspberries in Linn Park, are on the edge of woods and are mainly escapes from gardens. The fruit are ripe usually by early July.

So where does one find the best patches ... see the map.

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Wild Strawberry

Wild strawberry grows on woodland banks and heaths where they can catch a bit of sun. They spread locally by runners so always look around for more strawberries if you find one. There are two species in Linn Park the Wild Strawberry and the Barren Strawberry, neither are the origin of the domestic strawberry. They look similar, but the barren strawberry’s fruit stays small and pale. They are both members of the Rose family, but in different families; barren strawberry is Potentilla sterilis and the wild strawberry is Fragaria vesca.

The important difference to me is the fruit. The wild strawberry is a delicious bundle of flavour, which can eclipse domestic strawberry. However it’s a botanist’s role to know the differences:Wild strawberry: has glossier leaves, the petals are longer than the green sepals behind them and the terminal tooth of the leaf is longer than its neighbours. Barren strawberry: has duller leaves, the petals are scarcely longer than the sepals that can be seen clearly between petals and the terminal tooth of the leaf is shorter than its neighbours.