Tag Archives: Wood Avens

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

Yellow Snow Alert!

That is what it said on the BBC’s weather page this morning, “The MET office have issued a Yellow Snow Warning for Gloucestershire.”

Don’t eat Yellow Snow!

We had a little bit of English snow last night, it nearly hid the grass and by eight o’clock this morning it was drip, drip, dripping, everywhere. It was still enough to put the Sheep into a tizzy and you can guess what we were up to this morning.

Stuck SheepThis stupid animal just kept going deeper and deeper into the bramble as I tried to cut a way to her.

Stuck SheepI ended up pulling her gently out by a bramble as I just couldn’t get near to her.

Stuck SheepIt looks cruel but then I am cruel and I would not shy from starting a snowball fight with a little defenceless puppy either.

SnowballHeh heh! You need hands to make snowballs ūüôā

SnowballUnfortunately Fizz didn’t understand the first rule of fight club: You can’t throw snowballs back, you might hit the camera.

Most of the pictures that I took today turned out to be ruined due to me having a snowy and wet camera.

SnowballThen we found another Sheep in distress.

This one was so badly tangled it was walking on three legs.

4That was all that we needed, the Sheep have to be brought in. So they have been, they are all cleaned up and tucked away in the orchard.

They will stay there now until the end of next week because the farmer is going on holiday and I don’t want the Sheep out while he is away. Next week I am in charge.

Yes. I am in charge of you too.

FizzI put the trail camera out last night.

I had to alter my plans slightly, I don’t want to draw attention to the animals on public land and I didn’t know how much snow we were going to get.

No matter how well I conceal my bait, if it snows the animals will leave an obviously turned over area and tracks all around.

So I decided just to put the camera out on the farm and see if I could catch anything there.

This first video is of a Fox who is disturbed by a U.F.O.

Foxes and Aliens are predictable fodder for a Gloucestershire farm, on a winter’s night.

I didn’t expect this next one. One o’clock in the morning when they should be tucked up in their little woolly blankets, fast asleep. What on earth are these sheep doing?

As far as I can tell a group of them are creating a diversion whilst one of them removes the batteries from my camera and changes the SD card.

What do they want with batteries and what was on that SD card that they didn’t want me to see?

Well that is enough blarney for today.

Some friends of mine have been having dreams and sometimes these dreams have been coming true, not always in a good way.

Now this is the honest truth, last night I dreamt that I was writing about Geum urbanum, in my dream I carefully chose the pictures that I would use (One of them I remember was of a silver Ford Transit van) and I chose the words.

I woke up and I wrote this. It is not quite the same as in my dream (No vans)

Geum urbanum, The Wood Avens

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)Geum urbanum, Wood Avens is also widely known as Herb Bennet. A member of the Rose family the genus Geum is commonly known as Avens, it is very closely related to the Potentilla (Barren Strawberries) and the Fragaria (Strawberries) a relationship reflected in the shape of the flower.

The species name urbanum just means urban (of the town or city). It is a species closely  associated with man as it grows well on disturbed ground but also the burrs that carry the seeds tend to stick to men and their livestock and so follow them around.

Wood Avens seed head (Geum urbanum)Locally Wood Avens is a plant of woodland edge and hedgerow.

I am going to look at how the small strawberry like flower develops into the hooked burr that is the seed head but first we should have a quick look at the calyx.

The calyx is made up of five sepals. Between each of the large sepals is a small bract called an episepal and they form an additional structure called the epicalyx. The sepals that form the calyx are there to enclose and protect the flower as it develops. The epicalyx just seems to add extra protection.

Wood Avens calyx (Geum urbanum)The flower bud.

Wood Avens flower bud (Geum urbanum)

Wood Avens flower bud (Geum urbanum)The flower has five yellow petals, they are widely spaced like those of the Barren Strawberry. A ring of yellow stamens enclose the green, multiple styles that will become the burr.

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)As the flower matures the styles turn from green to brown.

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)The petals drop off, Seeds are developing at the base of the styles and the styles are becoming kinked and hooked at the tips.

Wood Avens burr (Geum urbanum)All that remains of the flower is the burr which will attach itself to a passing animal and so disperse.

Wood Avens burr (Geum urbanum) Wood Avens burr (Geum urbanum)   Wood Avens burr (Geum urbanum)   Wood Avens burr (Geum urbanum) The whole of the plant is slightly hairy. The leaves are quite variable. At the base of the plant the leaves are quite rounded with toothed edges. They are trefoil, having a large leaf with two smaller leaves set at right angles at the base of the leaf stem.

As you move up the plant the trefoil aspect of the main leaf becomes more obvious.

Wood Avens leaves (Geum urbanum)

Wood Avens leaves (Geum urbanum)At the top of the plant the trefoil nature of the main leaf seems to be abandoned and we are left with a single, toothed, lance shaped leaf with the two smaller leaves still at the base of the stem.

Wood Avens leaves (Geum urbanum)

Wood Avens leaves (Geum urbanum) The name Herb Bennet comes from an older name Herba benedicta which simply means Blessed Herb. The root of the plant was once worn as an amulet to protect from evil. It was believed that if you kept the root in your house then Satan could not enter and that a man wearing such an amulet was immune to the poison of beasts.

The root.

Wood Avens roots (Geum urbanum)The roots were also widely used in medicine, dried and powdered they were used to prevent stomach ills and to cure poisoning and when boiled with wine a cordial was made to protect against plague.

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum) Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)   Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)   Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum) Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Rosales

Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Geum

Species: Geum urbanum

Wood Avens flower (Geum urbanum)Wildflowers in winter.

Nights spent dreaming of wildflowers are good nights.

Wood Avens or Herb Bennet?

I think that I will go for Herb Bennet just because when I Google Wood Avens there is a certain other wordpress blogger dominating the front page with much better photographs than I can get. Well done mike585.

Herb Bennet is in the news today because the burrs are out and I am having so much fun with them.

Herb Bennet

Herb BennetThe seed head is in the form of a burr with lots of little hooks they are supposed to stick to the fur of passing animals and so disperse.

Herb BennetI have to test these things out.

FizzBut let’s start at the beginning.

Herb BennetI don’t think that there is a great deal to be said about it so this will mostly be pictures.

Herb Bennet, Geum urbanum also known as Wood Avens. It is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae). It is a plant of shady hedgerows that flowers (I got my first photo this year on the 12th of March) from May to August.

In folk lore it is said to protect you from venomous snakes and rabid dogs and in Herbal Medicine it has long been used as a cure for snake venom and dog bites, so that is pretty straight forward.

On with the flowers.

 

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet(12th March)

Herb Bennet

Herb Bennet