Tag Archives: Cardamine hirsuta

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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 of 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  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 nivalis f. pleniflorus “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  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”).  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  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  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  it is ripe and then it will open.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Early Snowdrops :

The French call this little flower 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.  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  attract any insects that are around.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asparagales

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Genus: Galanthus

Species: Galanthus nivalis

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)   Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)   Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Winter wildflowers in the Spring 🙂

 

Happy Face

It is like a Spring day out there today. It is like it is March and the sun is shining 🙂

Spring dayIn March the Butterflies come back and so today we are going out to look for them.

Fizz has got her happy face on.

Happy faceI haven’t seen that face for a long time. She is not really happy (well, she is always happy) she is hot and she is panting and it hasn’t been hot for a very long time.

Happy face 2It didn’t take us long to find a Butterfly. This is a Red Admiral.

Red AdmiralThe Red Admiral is a migrant species that arrives here in the UK in May and June flying in from Europe and North Africa.

It is only fairly recently that it has been considered a resident species, they don’t like our cold winters.

Butterfly Conservation says on it’s website, “There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in the far south of England.” That needs updating.

This animal has survived the winter in Gloucestershire and hopefully I will soon see a lot more. Hurrah for global warming 🙂

Red AdmiralIt does look a bit tatty but so would you if you had been outside all winter.

We better find it some nectar plants. You can try some of these.

Lesser Celandine.
Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine
Dandelion
Dandelion

Common Field-speedwellCommon Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellThere is another one, a Small Tortoiseshell.

Small TortoiseshellOh Joy. The flowers are flowering, the Butterflies are coming back and Fizz has got her happy face on.

Primrose
Primrose

ColtsfootColtsfootNow Fizz and I are tired of all this sunshine and Butterflies and flowers.

Tired FizzWe are going up on the bank to get our photographs taken with the sheep.

Interested FizzOn the way we find another little flower that we haven’t seen yet this year.

This is Hairy Biittercress.

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Hairy BittercressIt’s good for Butterflies.

Okay, let’s make some selfies.

Selfie 1

Selfie 2

Everybody crowd in.Selfie 3Our shadows are getting very short, mine used to be about ten sheep long.

I have written about Stellaria media today but I have had to leave quite a lot of important stuff out because I just didn’t have the photographs. I haven’t seen it in flower yet but it won’t be long and then I shall get the pictures and update the post.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Stellaria media, The Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed is a member of the Stellaria genus of flowers. It is a very small flower, about a quarter of an inch in diameter (6-9 mm) and in common with other Stellaria species it has five white petals.

The  five petals of Stellaria media are divided right down to the base, giving the flower the  appearance of ten petals and note that the petals of Common Chickweed are shorter or no longer than the sepals and that the sepals are hairy.

(Common Chickweed, Stellaria media 6-9 mm)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Compare Common Chickweed to two other Stellaria species that are commonly found here.

(Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea 7-12 mm)
Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria geminea)

(Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea 15-25 mm)
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)Common Chickweed has three styles that sit on a green ovary. The number of stamens can vary from three to eight.

(Stellaria media, 3 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(Stellaria media, 8 stamens)
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a weak stem, it will often trail along the ground but it seldom rises more that about eight inches. It is a small plant but if you find it growing in any quantity it is worth remembering that it is a tasty edible. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)The leaves are oval and smooth edged with a point at the tip, they grow in opposite pairs along the stem. Leaves at the base of the plant have quite long stalks and toward the top they are stalkless.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Common Chickweed has a tradition of use in herbal medicine and is most commonly used to treat skin conditions, cuts, bruises and burns

It is a valuable wildlife plant, a food plant to several moth species it is probably best known as being favoured by birds. Chickens eat both the plant and the seeds and that is how it gets it’s name, many small birds like finches eat the seeds and you can also feed it to cage birds.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)   Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Genus: Stellaria

Species: Stellaria media

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)Wildflowers in the Springtime 🙂

Bambi’s Not Dead!

Well I don’t think that she is.

We are just back from another day of Boar hunting We had seventy three videos on the card. Seventy two of them were of the same Fox.

It is not that I don’t like foxes, especially the shy and secretive country fox. You can’t get away from them if you live in town but eighty per cent of the UK foxes live in the countryside and nobody ever sees them.

It is just that I was hoping to see a Unicorn 😦


It was a nice bright day today but very blowy and we played “The Hat Game” all the way up to the wood.

The Hat GameThe wood was nice but then….

The WoodI spotted these leaves.

Lesser CelandineThey are the first leaves of the Lesser Celandine.

Last year I spotted leaves like this in the middle of February and then within a week they were in flower.

When I came to write about Lesser Celandine for EW I read that there is a very short time between the first leaves appearing and the first flowers and as I thought that I had witnessed and photographed that I put it in my post.

Now I will have to rewrite that bit because what I think really happened was the leaves appeared in early January (and I didn’t notice them) and six weeks later the flowers came.

Lesser CelandineI could be wrong, maybe these will be in flower next week and I will eat my hat 🙂

Lesser CelandineOn the way back from the woods we stopped to photograph the Aspen trees.

AspensYou know Aspen trees don’t you? If not then watch this video that I made last summer. The Oak that I turn to look at half way through was just behind me, I put it in to show that it wasn’t a windy day. Aspen live in a world of their own and they are beautiful.


Well, that’s about it except for the flowers….

But wait I have one more thing to show you. The seventy third video. It was actually the very first video on the card but the only one not to feature a Fox.

Wait for the second animal, it’s the next best thing to a Unicorn.


Cardamine species, The Bittercress (Hairy and Wavy)

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)There are two closely related species of Bittercress. They look superficially very similar and share the same properties. There is not a great deal of difference between the two species and many people will be content to know them simply as Bittercress.

They are both members of the Mustard family, they are both edible and generally they are both regarded as a weed by gardeners.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta) is a small winter annual, the leaves are green during the winter months and it flowers in early spring.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)The flowers are small (2-4 mm across) with four white petals.

The plant is characterised by the seed capsules that emerge from the centre of the flowers.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)Reddish at first they turn green as they ripen. The seeds are arranged inside like peas in a pod and the pods burst explosively throwing the seeds far from the plant. The seeds germinate in the autumn and winter as green leaves.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)It is characteristic of the Hairy Bittercress that the seed pods often rise well above the flowers.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)The stem of Hairy Bittercress is smooth and not hairy.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)Stem leaves are long and thin. There are not many of them.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)Most of the leaves are around the base of the plant and these are rounder than the stem leaves.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)The definitive difference between Hairy and Wavy Bittercress is the stamen count.

Hairy Bittercress has four stamens.

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta)Wavy Bittercress, (Cardamine flexuosa) has six stamens, a small difference but it is indicative of species.

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)Wavy Bittercress is a biennial or perennial. It has the same characteristic seed capsules as it’s relative but they tend to be less conspicuous and seldom grow above the topmost flowers.

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)It has fewer basal leaves.

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)Unlike it’s “Hairy” relative the stem of Wavy Bittercress is hairy.

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)These differences can be quite subtle, the only real way to be sure of the species is to count the stamens.

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa) Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)   Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)   Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)These two species of Bittercress are both native to the UK and they can hybridize, making any distinction very difficult. They can also hybridize with another close relative, the beautiful Cardamine pratensis. (I would call that “getting lucky”)

Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Brassicales

Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Cardamine

Species: Cardamine hirsuta
Species: Cardamine flexuosa

Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)Wildflowers in winter.