Tag Archives: Wild Flowers

Sunday (Phew! What a Scorcher)

Now, I have sat down here to write a post for you and beside me there is a steaming mug of black coffee and a large glass of whiskey. This is not good, I don’t do my best writing when I am drinking black coffee. I have taken a sensible precaution and I have written “Don’t Ramble” on the back of my hand in Biro. So now if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin….

Scorcher

Yesterday¬†started well. Saturday had been as warm as a late Spring day and Sunday looked just as promising. So we had to ask ourselves, “what will we do with all of this sunshine?” We can scour the woods for fungi when it’s raining, we decided to go and look for butterflies instead.

It was a long shot given the time of year but if it was going to happen it would be on a day like this.

Well we didn’t see any. In fact it was just a sunny winter’s day and not spring at all and in winter everything that isn’t dead is asleep.

So that’s that.

The End.

FizzOkay now I am rubbing the word “Don’t” off the back of my hand with spit.

Why on earth did I think we would find butterflies on the last day of November?

There are five British butterflies that overwinter as adults and that means that throughout the whole winter these delicate little insects will be outside, even when the streams freeze up and stop moving and frost covers everything in long crystals.

On any warm winter day they can and do wake up and they have a little stretch and bask in the sun for an hour before going back to sleep. These five will be the first to welcome the spring.

I will show them to you.

Three pictures of the Brimstone because I don’t think that I have had it on the blog yet. Not very flashy wings but it has a lovely photogenic face.

Brimstone Butterfly

Brimstone Butterfly

Brimstone ButterflyThe other beautiful animals are…

Comma
Comma Butterfly

Red Admiral
Red Admiral Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Peacock
Peacock ButterflyAll of these animals emerge in the summer sun and they are like teenagers, they don’t have any responsibilities. All that they do is drink nectar and enjoy the sun. Somehow when summer ends they have to survive the winter and when spring comes they will have to learn about territories and breeding. Well, that can be fun too.

It was a long shot but we could have seen any of these butterflies.

Anyway this isn’t going to be a post about any of these, this is a post about the Orange Tip and somewhere there is probably a reason.

This morning I wrote a couple of posts for my Easy Wildflowers Blog. They were both about Strawberries (of sorts) The Wild Strawberry….

Wild StrawberryAnd the Barren Strawberry.

Barren StrawberryPretty easy to tell apart, the real strawberry has a yellow dome in the centre of the flower.

Whilst I was researching the species I came across this interesting bit of information, you can tell the species apart because on the leaf of the Barren Strawberry the tooth at the tip of the leaf is smaller than the teeth either side of it. (True)

Barren StrawberryWhereas on the Wild Strawberry it um…isn’t (particularly)

Wild StrawberryDid you know that?

I think that there are easier ways to separate the plants but it is all good.

Wild Strawberry

Wild StrawberryThe other good way to tell if it is a real Wild Strawberry is to wait and see if Bananas grow on it. Wild Strawberries are really small and Bananas are far away.

OOOh! That coffee is kicking in.

Anyway I digress. While I was checking out my pictures of Strawberries I happened to notice some other pictures of Orange Tips and the Orange Tip is a butterfly. Do you get the connection?

The Orange Tip was sitting on my hand. Over the last few days I have become involved with a bird that might sit on my hand and so the Orange Tip struck a chord.

Robins are pesky birds.

I made the mistake recently of not identifying this bird, it is a European Robin. In the UK this is probably the most recognised and most loved bird that we have. I have got a love of these animals.

Robin

Robin

RobinThey hang around my flat and try and steal my stuff. Over the last few days I have been trying to get one to feed from my hand and so that is why I decided to write a post about the Orange Tip.

Everybody loves the Robin Redbreast. It is an audacious little bird and approaches men and seems friendly.

Male Robins will not tolerate each other and they fight to the death. I have read that up to ten per cent of all Robin deaths may be down to robinicide, they are little psychopaths, they are killers but they are fine with other species.

RobinSo anyway, as I was saying, When I first arrived here I was quickly accepted because of my affinity with animals. I know what they like to eat.

Everybody was happy because I brought Robins with me (Meal worms). The old fellow even started stealing my photographs to put on his wall…..

PhotographThen the Goldfinches arrived (Sunflower hearts)

Goldfinch CharmThese birds are so sweet and charming and as they had never been here before I received a request to stop feeding the Robins in case they chased the Goldfinches away.

Like Goldfinches can’t look after themselves ūüôā

The bird wears war paint.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

GoldfinchI have been feeding the Robins by my back door and recently I have begun to think that I could get them feeding from my hand, which would be very nice.

So little animals in my hand was on my mind when I looked through my library for strawberry pictures and that is when I saw the Orange Tip.

Now, keeping in mind the need to be precise and avoid rambling, I just need to tell you about how little animals came to be in my hands in the first place.

Blue tit chickBack in the olden days when I first started hanging out in woods the animals were very friendly.

Some of them were a bit too friendly and it seemed like they just couldn’t get enough of me.

Mosquitos What you are looking at there is probably the second most dangerous animal in the world. Mosquitoes kill more people than all of the Tigers and Great Whites and Crocodiles and everything else that you can think of put together.

The only thing worse than a Mosquito is me and my kind.

Still I quite like them. I understand that it is only the females that take my blood and they only do it because they need the protein to make their eggs and Mosquitoes love their children as much as we love ours.

Horse Flies on the other hand are just mean.

Horse FlyYou don’t even feel a Mozzie, they are masters of stealth but Horse Flies have mouth parts that slash and rip flesh and you get instant pain.

Ouch

Ouch! That had to hurt.HorseShut up! Who asked you?

Being quite green (Naive rather than environmental) my solution was Deet.

DeetIt is very effective. It works by creating a smell that is really offensive to insects and for a couple of years I lived in an insect free world.

One day my bottle of Deet just stopped working. It had always worked and then it just stopped. Why would that happen?

On my first day without Deet I got this photograph.

Red AdmiralThat was the day that I realised that the best way to approach insects might not be to cover myself in insect repellent. I have never worn it since.

So to get to the subject of this post.

The Orange tip is a lovely spring butterfly.

Orange TipIt is very common in the spring time and easy to recognise, you can spot them a mile off.

Orange Tip

Orange TipThe female of the species is a different matter. She doesn’t have the orange tips, she is just white and there are a few small white butterflies around at that time of year. I desperately wanted to photograph the female.

Every little white butterfly that I chased down the hedgerow turned out to be one of these.

Green Veined WhiteThis is a Green-veined White and not a female Orange Tip.

I was beginning to think that Orange Tips must mate with Green-veined Whites and there was no such thing as a female Orange Tip.

So anyway, one day I was out looking at the Wild Arum flower.

Wild ArumThis is not really a flower at all, the flowers are inside. The Arum Lily is really a complex Fly trap.

Wild ArumIt is a bit like the opposite of an insect repellent, it is designed to attract insects.

Now I am not suggesting that anybody goes out and covers themselves in Arum sap. It is a deadly poison that burns and blisters the skin but these things do happen and in the process of examining the fly trap I was exposed to the sap.

Wild ArumI did wash my hands in a nearby puddle of mud and I dried them on a convenient walking hand towel that I always keep with me for just such an emergency.

Hand Towel

Hand TowelBy this time my hands must have been smelling pretty good. (It’s okay I didn’t poison the dog)

This is a female Orange Tip.

Female Orange Tip

Female Orange Tip

Female Orange TipNow I am afraid that I have forgotten what I was talking about. Monday evening has become Tuesday morning and the whiskey is all gone. I must get some sleep.

This month I have to work on my Easy Wildflowers blog and get some content on there. You might think that I am slacking a bit. It is only temporary and it will be worth it. That blog is going to be very good.

Take care.

The Crazy World of Betty Bee

This is a post about Fairy Fingers, otherwise known as the Common Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. It has many other names and they mostly refer to fingers or gloves, in fact the scientific name Digitalis means “finger like” and is a reference to the way a single flower fits neatly over a human finger.

Betty and I see the Foxglove in very different ways. For me, to take in the whole flower I have to step back and the very shape of a Foxglove means that by the time I am far enough back to see the whole thing I am also seeing  a lot of the other plants around it. So I see it as a very modest, subtle and beautiful flower.

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common FoxgloveBetty’s view is somewhat different…(she is usually stoned when I see her)

Buff-tailed BumblebeeTo her it is just….

GROOVY BABY!Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common FoxgloveThis is where Buff-tailed Bumblebees go to relax after a hard day in the fields. The amount of times that I have found her lying comatose outside of a Foxglove… It just doesn’t bear telling.

Common FoxgloveA lot of flowers lay claim to medicinal properties. I know of one that can cure the bite of a seven headed serpent and I always pick and carry Common Centaury when I see it (Just in case) however not all of these claims have been scientifically proven.

The Common Foxglove has been proven and licensed for use. The medicine Digitalin is an extract of Digitalis purpurea and is an important drug used in the control of heart conditions.

Common Foxglove  Common Foxglove Common Foxglove

Foxgloves are very poisonous. Pretty much every part of the plant is poisonous, the leaves, stem, seeds and flowers. I don’t know about the root but I wouldn’t mess about with it. Foxgloves can kill you.

Symptoms of Foxglove poisoning include blurred vision, confusion, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, vomiting and nausea. .. and death. Regular users like Betty can also expect hallucinations and seeing halos around objects and loss of appetite.

Don’t worry Crocodiles are very dangerous too but also very beautiful. The only difference between a Foxglove and a Crocodile Is that one you don’t put in your own mouth and the other one you don’t get in it’s mouth. That’s all you have to remember.

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Well that is about all that I have to say about Foxgloves and is probably more than you wanted to know anyway. The Sun is shining, Poochy is whining. Fizz and I need to go out and explore the wonderful world of nature (and work on our tans). Thanks for looking in.

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

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Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

 

 

Black Wildflowers?

 

Ribwort Plantain:

Well they look black to me. It is really the bracts that are black, When the flowers open they will be brown with cream edges.Ribwort PlantainRibwort PlantainRibwort PlantainRibwort Plantain is one of the most common components of natural grassland and it is a valuable and nutritious food for grazing stock, this has led it to be considered an honorary grass by farmers and earned it the name Ribgrass but it is not a grass.

Ribwort Plantain is a wild flower from the family Plantaginaceae. The same family as the very pretty little speedwells.

(Common Field Speedwell)4 Common Field SpeedwellThe flower head is made up of numerous little flowers, each covered by a single bract. Each flower has four petals, Cream coloured with a brown centre. It has a single pistil and four stamens which end in creamy white anthers and give the open flower it’s characteristic appearance.

Ribwort Plantain flowerRibwort Plantain FlowerRibwort Plantain in flower.

Ribwort Plantain Flower Ribwort Plantain FlowerThe flower head is borne on a leafless, ribbed stalk

Ribwort Plantain StalkThe long, thin, basal leaves are also ribbed. Young leaves are considered edible but they get quite bitter with age and I don’t really bother with this one when foraging but they won’t kill you.

(Having said that I have just been reading that “Young leaves have a wonderful mushroom flavour” maybe I will give it another go)

Ribwort Plantain leafThe flowers are spent, the stamens have gone and only the stigmas remain. Stigmas are the pollen collecting part of the pistil.

Ribwort Plantain StigmaSo that is Ribwort Plantain. I like it because it is a bit different and interesting and like most things it turns out to be quite beautiful if you look closely. Plus it is raining again today.

Ribwort Plantain Ribwort Plantain Ribwort Plantain Ribwort Plantain

 

Lamb’s Tails (Part two) and Lady Bits

1Well, that last post was a lot of kerfuffle just to get us round to the important subject of lamb’s tails. Or more correctly the flowers of the Hazel tree. The male catkins are very nice and appear before any other sign that spring might be on it’s way.

2It is good to see them dangling in the hedgerow when there really isn’t much else to look at and it is still cold out.

3.1But when I see the Hazel catkins I am really waiting for something else. For me the absolute exquisite beauty of the Hazel lies in the female flowers. Every year I photograph them and then when they are gone I wish that I had spent more time with them and taken more pictures.

4It is a long wait. The female flowers don’t appear until the male catkins are almost spent. I have read that there is a good reason for that. The Hazel tree has both male and female flowers and to avoid self pollination the female flowers wait until the tree’s own male catkins have spent their pollen.

I have tested this theory on a tree with plenty of female flowers and a little flick of the finger tells me that the catkins are still full of pollen.

5Here are some of my best picture from this year and next year I will do better. The flowers are very small and many people don’t even know that they are there, they are so busy admiring the catkins that they miss the real beauty.

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That is one of my favourite wild flowers. It is very difficult for me to photograph it on the tree though. Next year I will do better.

Coming soon… Nuts!

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