It is hard to write a nature blog in January. Today I have been focussed on botany but for all of her admirers I will start you off with a little walkthebloomin’Dogany.
Fizz has a new game. I throw the ball and she chases it. Then, when any proper Dog would bring it back to me with a wagging tail, Fizz lies down and waits for me to catch up and tickle her before she will give it up.
Is that what your Dog does?
No! I didn’t think so.
We went up to the wood today to see if the Lesser Celandine was going to flower in January. No chance. The flower buds are there but they haven’t grown at all.
I am not really surprised, it didn’t flower until late February last year and although I am hoping it will be earlier this year, I didn’t really expect it to be a month earlier.
Now I will just show you this little fungus that I found. This is Scarlet Elf Cup.
It isn’t a great example so I am not really going to write about it. I know where we found it and I will look out for better samples. It is a nice splash of colour in an otherwise drab post.
Another wildflower that is on the cusp is Dog’s Mercury
These are not the flowers but the buds, they are not ready to open yet.
The most exciting thing that has happened to me in the last couple of days (Shut up! Fizz!). The most exciting thing has been finding these beautifully marked leaves of the Arum maculatum.
It is quite common to find blotched markings on the leaves of Wild Arum but when I came to write about it, I kind of let that information slide. I didn’t have the photographs to illustrate it, so I left it out.
I leave a lot of stuff out of my posts for exactly this reason. Nobody ever comments, “Hey Col, you didn’t show the development of the seed pods.” I didn’t have the pictures but I am aware of what I leave out and I will get the pictures next time around.
This is the youngest Arum maculatum that I have ever photographed.
Today I wrote about a wildflower with evergreen leaves, well evervariegated leaves and I will show you in a minute. I had to delve back into my picture from last year and I found a lot of good stuff for this flower, that I had taken last January.
While I was there I had a look at what else I was doing last January and these next pictures are from exactly a year ago.
It is quite funny really, regular readers will understand what I mean. It seems that the season dictates my actions. A year ago today I was messing about in the woods.
I was pretty sure then and still think so today, that although it is indistinct, that is the print of a Wild Boar.
..and I got a lot of Fallow Deer.
The other thing that I found amazing, exactly one year ago, guess what was in the garden?
Yes! Bumbarrels! They hardly ever visit but at exactly the same time last year.
BTW. This time last year the weather was a lot worse than it is now.
So today I wrote about a wildflower called Variegated Yellow Archangel. I know that it is a bit of a mouthful and the Latin doesn’t help. I am writing about it now because it is evergreen and although the flowers are a long way off you very well may see the foliage now. It is quite distinct and easy to recognise.
Before I show you the variegated variety let me just show you this.
This is our native Yellow Archangel.
and the Non-native.
Lamiastrum galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum, The Variegated Yellow Archangel.
Variegated Yellow Archangel is a type of Dead-nettle. Also known as Garden Archangel, it is a close relative of our native Yellow Archangel looking quite similar but with variegated leaves.
It is a garden escapee having been introduced into this country in the 1940’s and first recorded in the wild in the 1980’s.
It was introduced as a ground cover plant as it has attractive variegated leaves that are evergreen or semi-evergreen. It spreads by runners and covers areas quickly.
In the UK it is considered to be invasive and a threat to our ancient woodland plant species but just how invasive it is remains a question still unanswered.
This Archangel doesn’t seem to be having a great impact on our ancient woodlands. It seems to prefer the woodland edge and not to be spreading into the woods. My own observations are of Lesser Celandine, Wood Anemones and Bluebells growing freely amongst Variegated Yellow Archangel and the plant does seem to be restricted to the edge.
The seed produced by the plant is said to be infertile and this limits it’s ability to spread into new areas. Most commonly, when it is introduced into a new area it is the work of man, either deliberately introducing it to beautify our woodland or through the dumping of garden waste or soil. New plants can arise from just a small piece of root.
Summer leaves appear to be mostly green, marked with silver but winter foliage is often quite red.
However the colour can vary quite a lot.
The leaves are quite hairy on the top surface and less so underneath.
That is the winter foliage, in April the flowers arrive.
Like other Dead-nettles the flowers grow in whorls around a square, central stem with the lower ones opening first.
The petals are fused into a corolla that forms a tube with a hood above the opening and a three lobed lip. the central lobe of the bottom lip is striped with orange markings.
The hood is quite hairy. Under the hood there are four stamens, two long and two short.
In the centre of the stamens there is a downward pointing spike. It’s purpose may be to trigger the release of pollen when it is touched by an insect. The flowers are a source of nectar and pollen.
Species: Lamium galeobdolon subsp. Argentatum
There is an Angel looking over you. That flower is poisonous. Spit!