Tag Archives: Red Dead-nettle

We like Springs and Yellow Things

All of the flowers in this post are in flower today.

All through the winter I have posted flowers and sometimes people leave comments about all the wonderful winter flowers that we have in the UK. Well, we ¬†don’t have winter flowers, I was just trying to cheer winter up but today we do have flowers.

The trick is, not to look out of the kitchen window, then you don’t know that you are being pestered ūüôā

First wild flower of the day and it is yellow, it’s a Taraxacum.

DandelionDon’t worry, if you read all of the way to the end of this post then you will know more than your mum about the Taraxacum. (Except for Sarasin of course because her mum will also read this post)

Another Asteraceae in flower now, this one is a Daisy.

Bellis Perennis

Bellis Perennis

Bellis PerennisThe very, very beautiful and commonplace Bellis Perennis.

This next one absolutely brought joy to my heart. I missed you like I missed the warmth of the sun.

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser CelandineThat is the Lesser Celandine. Now do you believe that it is Spring?

A Blue one.

Common-field Speedwell

Common-field SpeedwellA Speedwell, of the common-field variety. They are well established and they are here to stay.

Now I gave Mudface a bit of a hard time in my last post, on account of her love of mud.
MudfaceIt wasn’t really fair and so to make amends, yesterday I bought her a new toy.

Fizz

Fizz

FizzIt is a squeaky ball. Does she like it? Who can tell?

I am going to skip most of the stuff that we saw and we did but I have to show you a couple more flowers.

Red Dead-nettle, it is only a little weed but I find the colours absolutely charming.

Red Dead-nettle

Red Dead-nettleThe Tommies are coming up.

Crocus

CrocusOkay that is it, one last thing.

Today I discovered something wonderful…. I can put Fizz up a tree and she doesn’t fall out.

FizzNo, that¬†wasn’t it. I am never cruel to animals. I just put her in the tree for a minute to stop her pestering me.

This is it. Navelwort.

NavelwortThis is a new one for me and I love that.

It is a succulent, native to the UK and it flowers in May. I took dozens of photographs but I will bore you later. Also known as Wall Pennywort, I found it growing on a wall.

Navelwort

One other thing that I just have to tell you. I am getting along well with taming my Robin. He lands on my hand now and takes food. He has started following me around when I go out, only in the farm yard, he doesn’t go far afield. When I brought Fizz back today He was there to welcome us back singing and following.

RobinHe costs me a lot of worms but I don’t think that I have made a mistake. It is hard not to love this little animal.

Heck of a long post, it is going to get longer. Here is my wild flower. Take care my friends.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Taraxacum species, The Dandelions

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)It may be that the Dandelion you see most often is Taraxacum officinale, the Common Dandelion, however there are more than 230 species of Dandelion in the UK and the differences between them are small and very complex.

It is not possible to identify a Dandelion to species from a single photograph. Many different things have to be taken into account.

The character of the leaves for instance. Some species have alternate lobes and some are opposite and there are some species that don’t have lobes at all, some have a purple central rib and in some it is pale.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.) Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)   Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)  Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)When you understand the leaf you then have to cross reference that with all of the other parts of the flower. The pattern of teeth on the end of each floret for instance.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)There are so many factors to take into account that identifying a Dandelion to species is a job for the experts. To us it is just a Dandelion, (Taraxacum species).

So can we even tell that it is a Dandelion?

Yes of course we can. Dandelions belong to the Asteraceae (Daisy) family and they have quite distinctive characteristics.

Like other members of the Asteraceae they have a composite flower head made up of many smaller flowers.

This next picture is of a Common Daisy (Bellis perennis) and shows the arrangement of central disc florets (yellow) and the outer ray florets (white), each “petal” and “disc” is a complete flower in itself and together they make the flower head that we call a Daisy.

DaisyA Dandelion has no disc florets. It is composed solely of ray florets.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)This next Dandelion lookalike is quite obviously not a Dandelion because it has central disc florets and it is in fact the flower of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

ColtsfootThe other easy to spot and important characteristic is that unlike other lookalikes¬†there are no leaves on the flower stem and it is unbranched, each flower head is carried on a single, bare stem. that will rule out the Hawksbits and other pretenders like Cat’s-ears.

Dandelion (Single flower head on a bare stem)
Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Cat’s-ear (Multiple flower heads on a branched stem)
CatsearIf you remain unsure then cut it. The Dandelion is the only yellow member of the Asteraceae with a hollow stem and it exudes a milky sap.

Dandelions secrete latex, not very much in the wild varieties but scientists have developed cultivars for the production of rubber and there are tests being carried out today with tyres made of Dandelion rubber.

At the base of each flower there are a series of down turned bracts. These are sometimes mistaken for sepals but remember that this is a flower head and not an individual flower, each ray floret has it’s own sepals at the base which will eventually become the parachute that will carry the seed.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Let’s look under the bonnet.

Each “petal” is a whole flower. It has all that is required to make a flower, a corolla (fused petals) male reproductive parts and female parts too and an ovary that will become a seed.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)So what are all of these pointy bits coming out of the flower? They look like styles but they are covered in pollen, so that would make them stamens, right?

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)These are the styles, the female part of the flower and they are covered in pollen that they picked up from their own anthers.

I have to do a drawing to show you how this works. The anthers develop first and they produce pollen on the inside, The style grows through the middle of the anthers and collects the pollen. The style has two receptive surfaces that are pressed closely together, the pollen collected on the outside does not affect them. So the style carries the pollen.
Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)This is the best photograph that I can find to show you the anthers on a Dandelion.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Dandelions produce a lot of pollen.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Strangely all of this sexual stuff is not really necessary, most Dandelions are capable of asexual reproduction and their seeds do not require second party fertilisation but it is fun.

With 230 plus species in the UK you can pretty well find Dandelions in flower at any time of year, they don’t all flower at the same time, however there is a season.

April is the best time to look for Dandelions, the fields are full of them.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)By May they will be spent.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)You will never see a Dandelion with some petals and some seeds, the transformation seems to be instant and total, they close as a flower and when they open again they are a seed head.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)The seeds are called achenes and the parachute is called a pappus and the parachute is actually made from modified sepals of the tiny flower called a ray floret. Between the seed and the parachute is a stem called a beak. The whole of this structure has grown from the style that both distributed and collected pollen for the flower.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)These are the Dandelion clocks of our childhood, you can tell the hour by the number of breaths it takes to disperse the seeds. They are not firmly attached so it is usually early.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)The Dandelion weed is without doubt one of our most beautiful wild flowers.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)I am not really sure why it hasn’t been modified and cultivated for the garden. Dandelions are a very good weed to have in the garden, they have a very deep tap root that draws nutrients up to the surface and makes them available for other, more fancy, flowers. They also attract pollinators.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Dandelions are the food plant for at least twelve species of moth and many other invertebrates. They are rich in nectar as well as pollen and are an important food source for bees.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)They are also good for us to eat, all parts of the Dandelion are edible.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)There is something that I should tell you about this beautiful and useful wild flower, it has a wicked side.

If you pick a flower and chase your sister with it then she will scream and run away because if you can successfully touch her with the flower then she will be fated to wet the bed. (Dandelions are a lot of fun)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)The common French name for a Dandelion is “Pissenlit” and “lit” is the French word for bed. There is some logic in this, Dandelion root has been used in herbal medicine as a diuretic and it does indeed make you piss en lit.

Our own common name Dandelion is derived from another French name “Dent de Lion,” meaning Lion’s tooth and that is a reference to the shape of the leaf.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)The Germans call it Pusteblume (Blow Flower)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)BTW In case you wondered, that lump that you sometimes see in the centre of a new flower is just ray florets that haven’t opened and expanded yet.

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asterales

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Taraxacum

Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)Wildflowers in the Spring ūüôā

The End of Scruffbag

There is not an awful lot to report today.

We have had new visitors to the garden. This is a mixed pair of Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Apologies for the quality of the pictures but the weather was awful, I offer these as a record of species.

Bullfinch male(male)

Bullfinch female(female)

It has been about a year since I saw a Bullfinch in the garden, then it was just one male and he didn’t stay. These have been around for about a week now and obviously I hope that they do stay. Bullfinches are very fond of buds, especially of fruit trees and we have an apple orchard at the bottom of the garden, so hey, what’s the problem? At the moment they are digging into the sunflower hearts and the seeds are sticking to their faces, I don’t know if it was just because it was raining when I took these pictures but they look like babies plastered with food. I hope that they nest here.

Now I am a famous Botanist, Entomologist and Big Game Hunter (Heck, I am probably even an Astronaut, I haven’t checked) but despite all of my qualifications, most people still come here to see Scruffbag. So here is Scruffbag in the weather.


It has been very up and down, that’s all I’m saying.

BTW. This post is called “The End of Scruffbag” because tomorrow my valued associate is going to the beauty parlour to get fixed, after today you won’t recognise her.

Fizz

FizzSo Fizz is planning a post on FB saying that I only love animals that eat worms. That is not really true, there is plenty of room for one more animal in my life and soon there will be three of us writing this blog and that will be better than two.

European Robin

European RobinWe spent a lot of time playing “how close will you get?” ¬†Then yesterday the bird started eating out of my hand but.. It is not perching on my hand yet. I have to put my hand on the floor. This is just awkward because it involves a lot of me being on the floor and it is uncomfortable but we are getting there.

Wildflowers next and after a very slow start things are picking up.

On Sunday I found my first Wood Avens, I would say, out of season, but I did find a few early flowers last year.

Wood AvensMonday brought White Dead-nettle and…

White Dead-nettleMy first hazel flowers. (female)

Hazel FlowersTuesday brought Red Dead-nettle and about time too, this one is two weeks late..

Red Dead-nettleThere are still no Primroses though but please don’t write in on this subject.

PrimrosesIn the garden we have got yellow ones, red ones, we have even got a blue one and have had since the beginning of January. I am just not finding them in the wild.

My area is at a bit of altitude and a good two weeks behind sea level so you may well have wild primroses around you, plus they will come out in the open before they come out in the woods but I was photographing them here on February the third last year.

Okay, say goodbye to Scruffbag.

Sccruffbagand for those who really can’t get enough of her, here is a video.

You are only going to want to watch this if like me you are a student of animal behaviour or if you like big eyes. She is keeping the ball from me but she doesn’t just run off with it, she walks a few paces and waits for me to catch up and as I bend down she takes another few steps out of reach and waits for me again.

If you think that is weird you should see her play the gate game. There is a gate on this track, she crawls under it and waits for me to climb over. As soon as I climb she crawls under the gate and sits on the other side watching me. She thinks this is so funny ūüėÄ

So I wrote about Hazel. In February I am having trouble keeping up with the wild flowers as they appear, White Dead-nettle isn’t on Easy Wildflowers yet. It is pretty obvious that I will fall behind in the summer. Oh well, I will just do my best.

I left a lot out of this post, there are no leaves or bark, I am not even sure that I mentioned that Hazel is a tree. It is one that I will come back to.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Corylus avellana, The Hazel Tree

Hazel catkins are an inflorescence of small flowers that form in the autumn and are with us all winter, they can begin to open in January if the weather is mild.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(Catkins in November)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(February)

Each catkin is a flower head, comprised of about 240 small flowers. Each flower is covered by a triangular downy bract, beneath the bract are four stamens and each stamen has two yellow anthers (the pollen producing male part of a flower).

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)A single anther will produce around nine thousand grains of pollen and one catkin, nearly nine million. A Hazel tree produces a lot of pollen.

Hazel is wind-pollinated and not reliant on insects so most of the pollen produced is blown away and doesn’t find it’s target.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The target for the pollen is the style of the female flower.

The Hazel tree is monoecious, meaning that each tree has both male and female flowers. The female flowers grow in clusters from small buds above the catkins. Only the red styles of the flowers protrude from the buds and the female inflorescence typically measures 2-4 mm across, It is a very small flower.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Despite anything that you may read to the contrary (or that I may have told you in the past) the location and timing of the female flowers has nothing to do with avoiding self pollination. Corylus avellana is self incompatible, it cannot self-fertilise.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Each female flower has two red styles (The pollen receiving female part of a flower). Each bud contains a cluster of between four and fourteen female flowers. Only the styles emerge from the bud.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Once pollinated the female flowers produce the fruit.

Hazel nuts in July.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Unripened Hazel nuts are white and appear either singly or in small clusters. They are surrounded by a leafy, green sheath called an involucre.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The fruit begins to ripen and turns brown in August.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Note that in this next picture, taken on the twentieth of August, next year’s catkins are already growing on the tree.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)In December a few nuts remain.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Now the trees are characterised by the dried involucres that stay on the tree long after the nuts have gone.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)There is a mass of misinformation on the internet. I used the following sources to verify the accuracy of my post.

Acta Agrobotanica Vol. 61 (1) 33-39 2008

Molecular Biology Reports April 2012 Vol. 39 Issue 4 pp 4997-5008

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fagales

Family: Betulaceae

Genus: Corylus

Species: Corylus avellana

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Wildflowers in winter ūüôā

Oops! I think we shot Bambi.

I am not sure how well this post is going to work. Visibility was poor today. It is day two of our Wild Boar hunt and we can’t just stay indoors. If you want to be a Big Game Hunter then you have to be brave.

On the way I want to go and take a photograph of the Elm Trees that we looked at yesterday but we can’t remember where we left them.

Fizz in FogEventually we do find them. I knew that they were in the corner of the field, I just wasn’t sure where the corner was.

Elm TreesNow to find the woods and the camera.

Foggy Doggy(Foggy Doggy)

We found a hedge and followed that.

HedgeIn the end we found the wood and I did get lost in the wood  but then we found the camera.

WoodI was in two minds about leaving the camera out there for another night. I thought we could just go up there and have a look.

What we found was thirty seven videos on the card. Some of the bait had been taken but not all of it. I had baited with raisins and bread. Raisins are invisible and smelly and I had hidden the bread under leaf litter, I could see that some bread had been exposed but not eaten so I didn’t expect to find Boar videos. (We can’t view them until we get home) I suspected Squirrels but decided to leave the camera out for one more night.

We got thirty five videos of Foxes, poor quality and not worth looking at and then this…

I can see what it isn’t. It isn’t a Fox or a Boar. I thought maybe an Alsation Dog or a Big Cat.


It could be anything really but it’s not. It is a Fallow Deer in it’s grey winter coat. Can you tell that it’s grey?


Well I am just going to say that the weather was against us today. The camera is still out there and maybe we will have a clearer night tonight.

Now cast the fog from your mind.

Lamium purpureum, The Red Dead-nettle

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)Known as Red Dead-nettle in the UK, the flowers range from pink to purple. Other names include Purple Dead-nettle and Purple Archangel and are perhaps a little more descriptive.

The Dead-nettles are so called because although they look a bit like Stinging Nettles they have no sting.

The flower is best described as a corollla, this is the name that we give a flower when it’s petals are fused together to form a tube.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)The opening of the flower has a top “hood” petal and two lower “lip” petals.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)Under the hood there are four stamens, two long and two short and a style with a two lobed stigma (not shown)

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)The stem is square.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)Leaves are heart shaped with small, regular toothed edges and hairy. Towards the top of the plant they can appear quite purple.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum) Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)   Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)   Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum) In the UK the flowering season can start as early as February and last until November. In fact this year I took my first pictures of the flowers on the second of February. This makes them very important to wildlife.

Another name for this Dead-nettle is the Bumblebee Flower they are rich in nectar and pollen and much loved by insects.

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Lamiales

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Lamium

Species: Lamium purpureum

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)Wildflowers in winter.