Plants on Watch: Fraxinus excelsior

In this spell of dry weather, the topography of the landscape reveals how aspect and gradient play such an important role in soil moisture retention.

The steep slope on the left side of the picture has a reduced soil cover due to its steepness. (Solifluction occurs as soil particles are eroded downwards). This combined with its south westerly aspect and exposure to maritime winds causes it to dry out quicker than the surrounding topography.

In contrast the valley bottom, protected and enclosed by the slight changes in topography each side of its base is still green. The Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) has taken advantage of this to grow in the lowest and therefore wettest part of this assemblage of micro gradients.


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Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester Metropolitan University

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