Just Flower Power

It has rained a lot in the last couple of days and then today the sun came out again.

Lesser Celandine

Lesser CelandineThat is a Ranunculus, a “Little Frog” called Lesser Celandine.

I found a few interesting things today and so I am going to start with female plants of the Dog’s Mercury.

Dog's MercuryThe sexes seem to like to hang out together. It is either a group of all male flowers or all female and until today I could only find males.

I need photographs of the flowers. When I wrote about Dog’s Mercury earlier in the year, this was the best picture that I could find of the female flower.

Dog's Mercury female flowerThat is not really the flower, that is just a pair of swollen ovaries with a stigma on the top. That is what the flower will become.

It is not easy to photograph the flowers, they are small and they tend to lie under the leaves but this is what I got today.

5

Dog's Mercury female flower

Dog's Mercury female flowerYou are not missing anything, there just isn’t very much to the female flower. Three green tepals open and inside there is just a two lobed stigma, (until the ovary develops). I will work on getting some better pictures πŸ™‚

The male flowers are a little bit easier, at least they don’t hide themselves away.

Dog's Mercury male flower

Dog's Mercury male flowerHere is one that you can see. Common Field-speedwell.

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellI liked this picture of the seedling.

Common Field-speedwellI like it because the floor is covered in little unidentifiable green things and then ever so slowly you begin to recognise them and their mysteries are revealed.

Mystery Dog

This next one is Hairy Bittercress.Hairy BittercressIt is only when I got home and looked at these pictures that I realised the seed pod at the back of this next picture looks fit to burst, it is something else that I must photograph.

Hairy BittercressThere are a lot of flowers about now. We will see some more on the way back but we have come out here to look for Butterflies.

It was a bit disappointing today, I saw several but I just couldn’t get close to them. I put it down to coming out at lunch time on the hottest day of the year, so far. They had too much energy.

I saw two Red Admirals and then a Small Tortoiseshell. I chased them up and down the track for ages, our walk took four hours today.

Fizz looked after my hat while I chased the Butterflies.

Hat Stand FizzThis kinda selfie was as close as I could get today. (There is a Butterfly in this picture just below shoulder height on my right)

Butterfly SelfieThere it is πŸ™‚

Small TortoiseshellPesky animals.

Come on Fluffy, back to the flowers.

My shadow and Fluffy

Fluffy?Fluffy

I am putting these in just because I love them.Arum maculatumThey are the mottled leaves of Arum maculatum.

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatumWe can’t have a post in March without Primroses, I am just doing thrums today.

Primrose

PrimroseThis next one has been nibbled by mice I think.

Primrose

Primrose

PrimroseThen to round off the walk I found something that I absolutely love.

Wild GarlicIt is Wild Garlic. I won’t dwell on this today because I don’t think my photographs were very good. I need to get decent pictures at this early stage and then I need to eat them. We will be back here soon.

Wild Garlic

Wild GarlicThat was it for today. I wasn’t over pleased with the pictures that I got but there is some exciting stuff going on and I am looking forward to having another go at it.

This is a dog tired Dog.

Dog tired Dog

I wrote about Snowdrops for EW. It was a frustrating task because I wrote this post last year but I knew that it wasn’t good enough and that I would have to rewrite it.

It took me about twelve hours to do 900 words but it is done now.

The Snowdrops around here are fading fast but hopefully this will be all right for next year πŸ™‚

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Galanthus nivalis, The Common Snowdrop

The Common Snowdrop isn’t native to the UK it is naturalised, that means that it is an introduced species that probably arrived here around about the sixteenth century and has been here ever since. Most people think of it as a native species today.

Galanthus nivalis is native to most of Europe and that is where we got it from.

There are twenty species ofΒ Galanthus Snowdrops native to Europe, the last one only being identified in 2012. They all look very similar but the most common species is G. nivalis, the Common Snowdrop.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Identifying the Common Snowdrop:

Galanthus nivalis has narrow leaves (6mm or less) all of the other known species have leaves at least Β 9mm wide.

So there is a simple rule of thumb.

If the leaf blade is thinner than your little finger nail then it is Galanthus nivalis, if it is wider then it is one of the others.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)It is very easy to identify the plant as G. nivalis but the fun doesn’t stop there.

There are dozens of garden varieties that have been cultivated from G. nivalis and so they all have the same narrow leaves. They have names like Galanthus nivalis “Green Tear.” These varieties have been selected because they have some striking difference to the Common Snowdrop and usually that concerns colour or shape.

The flower of the Common Snowdrop is composed of six “tepals.”

(Tepal is a word that we use when the petals and the sepals appear the same or are performing the same function)

The three outer tepals are plain white. The three inner tepals are half the length of the outer ones and they have a green mark at the tip that looks like a little bridge.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)To complicate matters further there is a double Common Snowdrop that grows in the wild and can often be found growing amongst the single flowers. It is called Galanthus nivalisΒ f. pleniflorusΒ “Flore Pleno.”

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis Flore Pleno)From this species, many more double and semi-double garden varieties have been cultivated and they are all Galanthus nivalis.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis Flore pleno)

So to summarise my “Easy” identification guide: If the leaf blade is thinner than your little finger nail, then it is Galanthus nivalis Β and if it has that little green bridge mark and nothing else, then it is almost certainly just a Common Snowdrop.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)If you would like to view some of the many variations on this theme then I would recommend a visit to Judy’s Snowdrops. My link will take you to a page showing G. nivalis cultivars but the whole web site is worth exploring if you have the time.

There is one other identification feature that I should mention, The leaves of the Common Snowdrop face each other like a pair of hands clapped together, in a few species the leaves wrap around each other at the very base. I think that for our purposes this is a bit academic, it is enough to do the finger nail test.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)NB: If you find one with leaves broader than your little finger nail then it is not Galanthus nivalis and you should take it’s photograph.

The Common Snowdrop description:

The Common Snowdrop has a single flower on a stem (sometimes called a “scape”). Β As the flower breaks through the ground it is protected by two bracts with hardened tips and the flower lies between them enclosed in a papery spathe.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)As the flower grows it breaks free of it’s paper casing, The bracts will hang above the flower now, usually with the upper side of the spathe intact.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The flower is composed of six tepals, (petals) three outer and three inner. The outside tepals are white. The inner tepals Β are half as long as the outer and bear a green mark that looks like a little bridge.

The inside of a Common Snowdrop looks like this.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)There are six anthers, covered in orange pollen which surround a single style.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)You can see the style better in Β this next photograph.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The ovary (where the seeds are produced) is the green bulb at the base of the flower.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)This is the fruit of the Snowdrop, it will contain two or three seeds. The flowers die and drop off in early March and the leaves die back soon after but the seeds won’t be ripe until June. Until that time the fruit will lie on the ground, it will yellow when Β it is ripe and then it will open.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Early Snowdrops :

The French call this little flowerΒ perce-neige which literally translates as pierce-snow. The tips of the leaves are hardened to allow them to break through the cold frosty ground.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Unlike the Primrose, Early Crocus and Coltsfoot, I can’t really see this flower as one of the “first signs of spring,” it doesn’t wait for spring, it flowers in the winter.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Kew Gardens have been monitoring the arrival of the first Snowdrops since the 1950’s and at that time Snowdrops opened late in February, by the 1990’s they were opening in January. In 2014 Kew announced their first Snowdrops on December 5th. Winters really are warming up.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The Snowdrop flowers very early in the year, when there are few pollinating insects around, as a result the plant usually spreads by vegetative means (from the small bulblets that form at the base of the main bulb) rather than from seed production. Β However they will last into March and do provide a very valuable source of nectar and pollen for early Bumblebees, Honeybees and other insects.

Snowdrops react to the sun. On a warm sunny day they open their outer tepals wide and release a scent that is like warm honey. They are doing their best to Β attract any insects that are around.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order:Β Asparagales

Family:Β Amaryllidaceae

Genus:Β Galanthus

Species:Β Galanthus nivalis

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Β Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Β  Β Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Β  Β Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Winter wildflowers in the Spring πŸ™‚

 

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35 thoughts on “Just Flower Power”

  1. Excellent photos as always, Colin.
    And thank you for sharing such interesting information. I love the first signs of wild garlic when the tiny shoots break through the ground in your photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Vicki πŸ™‚ I am loving watching you come to grips with your new camera and really want to see how it performs with different challenges, macro flowers and flying birds etc. There is no way that my camera can do a bird in flight, slow auto focus, I am looking forward to seeing your best πŸ™‚

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      1. This new camera is AMAZING, Colin. Just constantly astonished at the sharp focus and autofocus. It’s almost like my glasses have been cleaned for the fist time in years on reviewing the day’s images. Haven’t had a chance to do any BIF (only just discovered that that means Birds in Flight from a forum I was reading on using the Sony a6000). I made a chance photo of some sparrows on a restaurant guttering/pipe in the city today, but that’s all. Just lots to do on flat hunting & sorting out stuff at home. At 11 frames per second I should be able to catch a bird in flight easily though (I hope).
        I did better with the exposure in the city today, but still having trouble judging the composition in the frame in the bright sunlight – have cut a few legs off.

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  2. I love the flowers of spring, but esp. snowdrops. There is such purity about them. Every year there are more in the yard and that makes me very happy! πŸ™‚ Your descriptions are wonderfully detailed – looking through your eyes is a great way to learn.

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  3. I love your tramps (we call them ‘bushwalks’ over here in Oz). When I was younger I used to do a lot of botanising ‘tramps’ with some of my good mates. I reckon you’d be great value on a bushwalk.

    How long does one of your tramps take you on average and how far do you usually travel?

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    1. Thank you so much πŸ™‚ Um… Our tramps? It is just really walking the dog. It takes one hour to walk a dog but our walks are usually between two and four hours. When the weather is good we go out into the forest and a walk can take ten hours but we don’t cover much ground, fifteen to twenty miles. We keep stopping to eat and take photographs, it is more like a picnic than a hike. I generally don’t like to walk with other people, it can take me thirty minutes or more to photograph a subject and my companion is getting bored, Fizz never gets bored. I do like to walk with people but I don’t try and work when I am with them, if you know what I mean?

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    1. Thank you Sandi πŸ™‚ I try to make what I write clear and easy to understand but finding the words is always difficult. I don’t have much command of my own language. Perhaps I should try writing in Mandarin Chinese?

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  4. Thank you for the lovely snowdrops feature and for all the other interesting information and photographs you give us. I do appreciate how much time it must take you to share these botanical gems. I do hope you continue to have more sunshiny days. It’s such a joy to watch young plants shooting through the surface. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you Jane πŸ™‚ Creating my Easy Wildflowers site is my real passion because I spend a lot of time researching the plants that I write about and I am well aware that it is very difficult to find good information on the web. There is a hole there that needs to be filled. I wish that I could create those posts a bit quicker, a wildflower ID guide is only effective if it has a comprehensive content and today I have just 41 flowers in mine. I must work harder πŸ™‚

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  5. What a “read” today! The photos are always first class, whether it be wild garlic pushing thru, tired doggie shots or the most beautiful little snow drops. They are exquisite and as mentioned by another Follower, like little lamps.
    Once again, thank you for an enjoyable time well spent. I’m sure both you and Fizz were tired.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ettel πŸ™‚ I am so glad that you continue to enjoy our posts. There is something very enjoyable about wearing Fizz out on a long walk and seeing her collapse when we get home.

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  6. Well I have to give this 5 thrums up! (tu) πŸ˜€ So much springing from this post. Powerful stuff πŸ™‚ I am curious if the snowdrops are becoming hardier or if the weather is really getting that much warmer, or both? The double is really darling. The arum is a favourite and the garlic, well I’ll let you chew on that one πŸ™‚ Fizz went from elated to deflated, now that’s a butterfly chase πŸ˜€

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    1. Thank you Stephanie πŸ™‚ I am sure that the weather is getting warmer. The question is only, is this just the natural up and down of our weather system or is it going to just keep on getting warmer until the ice caps melt and we all have to live under the sea. I don’t know but I won’t be here when that happens. We are not the only species on the planet, we just think that we are, too bad.

      A forest is an ecosystem with thousands of different species all filling different roles and working together to keep the forest healthy and happy and that can also be applied to the whole world until we come along and say, “This was put here for us and we are the only species that matters.” If we are wrong about that then we will spoil the balance of nature and it will get warm.

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    1. Thank you Gin πŸ™‚ They seem to be pretty good at coping with frost. British winters don’t trouble them and they are naturalised in Norway, Sweden and Eastern Canada. I think that is about as far north as they go. Most places selling Galanthus nivalis describe them as “Fully hardy” (-15 C)

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    1. Thank you Emily πŸ™‚ I am constantly finding things that I have never looked at before and then I need to go and understand them. It makes me think about all that I must have missed in the world. I need to catch up πŸ™‚

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