Friday, 21 April 2017

Nettlebed flowers

Just a few pictures from a shortish walk (6.5 miles) to the north of Nettlebed. After a warm, dry spell the weather has turned cool and dry. We desperately need some rain soon!. The objective of the walk accompanied by two friends was to look for toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) which is a strange chlorophyll-free plant growing around the base of mainly hazel (and elm) coppice. The area had hundreds of hazel coppices but alas no toothwort was found in this area. What was evident in many of the woods was carpets of bluebells.

bluebell

We spotted a few Wych elm trees (Ulmus glabra) which at this time of year are in 'flower' although this tree was already producing the winged fruits called samaras. Although Dutch elm disease decimated the large English and Wych elm trees, there are many small elms still around. Regrettably once an elm reaches flowering size the scent of the flowers attracts the beetles that carry the disease and so the tree may not survive a great deal longer.

wych elm,Ulmus glabra

A plant in good numbers was the native form of yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon). Unfortunately there are many places where the more vigorous form with variegated leaves (subsp. argentatum) is taking over. The pure green form has a dramatic flower structure.

yellow archangel

A plant I had seen a lot of earlier in the week and at Sulham was Moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina). In this area it was only present in a few places.

moschatel,Adoxa moschatellina

At the pond at Russell's Water a group of mallard ducklings were being shepherded around by mother. The father was asleep on the roof of a duck house.

mallard ducklings

Cowslips were out, adding a welcome touch of deep yellow.

cowslip

Close by the cowslips was a sedge (probably Wood Sedge) in flower (A tiny 'grass' flower).

sedge

Moving to another strip of woodland we saw a good range of ancient woodland indicator species: Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum).

solomons seal,Polygonatum multiflorum

The real star attraction of the walk was a patch of Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) much less common around here than it used to be. It has curious flowers which were at their best.

herb paris,Paris quadrifolia

The 'quadrifolia' means four leaves and it does have strong four-fold symmetry in the flower and leaves. However in the area a couple of plants had five rather than four leaves. This was the view from above.

herb paris,Paris quadrifolia

Arum lilies (Arum maculatum; Lords and ladies; Jack-in-the-pulpit) were pretty numerous but only a few were flowering. Quite a few plants had a random pattern of black blotches on the leaves.

arum lily

The most impressive flowering trees at the time were cherry trees and here a crab apple (Malus sylvestris).

carb apple

Here and there, scattered over the more moist locations especially ditches were Cuckoo flowers (Cardamine pratensis).

cuckoo flower

Finally one of the more unusual and overlooked Spring flowers, the horsetail (Equisetum arvense). A curse for the gardener as they have very deep, brittle roots.

horsetail

Hopefully after some rain I will soon be able to explore areas further afield.

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