A beech Fagus sylvatica bud. It always seems to me that buds are under-appreciated natural objects, not just because of their inherent beauty but because that explosion of greenery that we call spring is already pre-packaged inside, protected by bud scales but ready to unfold just as soon as a winter's chill breaks the bud's dormancy.
Charcoal-black ash Fraxinus excelsior buds on grey twigs are unmistakeable. Some buds will burst to reveal a mass of crimson stamens in early spring, others will burst much later to unfurl their foliage. Ash is always the last native tree to come into leaf in Britain.
Hazel Corylus avellana buds, with next year's catkins already formed and ready to elongate and shed pollen next February. Hazel twigs have bristly hairs on their surface. The leaves only unfurl after the catkins have shed their pollen, so as not to inhibit the flow of airborne pollen.
These are the distinctive winged fruits of hornbeam Carpinus betulinus, that cling to the twigs long after leaf fall. You can just see one of the small brown nuts attached to one of the bracts, bottom right.....
... and these are hornbeam buds, which are not quite so distinctive.
A sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus bud, which is particularly attractive in spring when it swells, elongates and in many trees becomes flushed with purple pigments.
And finally, a horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum 'sticky bud', with the horse shoe-shaped scar of one of last summer's leaf stalks. For generations of children (me included) who went to rural schools that had a 'nature table', the annual ritual of cutting these buds in early spring and watching them unfold in a jam-jar of water was an annual, memorable ritual that became an enduring totem of spring. For a close look at the marvel of microscopic packaging inside one of these buds, hop over to http://beyondthehumaneye.blogspot.com/2009/11/marvel-of-miniaturisation.html
For part 2 see http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.com/2009/12/tree-spotters-guide-to-buds-part-2.html
For a Tree-Spotter's Guide to Fruits and Seeds, visit http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.com/2010/10/tree-spotters-guide-to-fruits-and-seeds.html
For more posts on tree ID click here