Tuesday, 8 October 2013
You are familiar with the five-pointed leaves of ivy when it is scrambling across the woodland floor or climbing trees. But when it gets high up on a wall or a tree, the leaves grow just one point, not five. It looks like a different plant. These are the flowering stems of ivy.
First the little drumstick buds
Then the sepals curl back to reveal the stamens, like even tinier drumsticks, and the conical stigma in the middle. Have a look through a hand lens.
Ivy blooms at this time of year, when so many other plants are producing berries, and keeps its berries into the spring when conversely many plants are in flower. So it is a great nectar source for lots of flying insects who have a last chance to feast and party before the cold days of autumn put an end to their little lives.
My insect photography is not so great but I did manage to capture a couple of hoverflies visiting the ivy. The other flies and the wasps were too wary and buzzed off when I got close.
This one is Eristalis tenax, the Drone Fly. See some more about it on my post for 7th June 2012.
And here is another common hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii, with the yellow "moustache stripes" on its abdomen.
When the flowers are over the black berries will develop to feed birds and mice in the winter and spring.