Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Fern ID 2: Bracken

Next easiest fern to identify is Bracken.  It's the only one to grow up on a stalk, with fronds branching off up the stem.

It's a world-wide weed, spreading easily by underground rhizomes and hard to eliminate.

We have too much of it already at Filnore.  We don't want to eliminate it but it needs controlling.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Fern ID: Hart's Tongue

Now a short sequence of fern identification postings. This one is Harts Tongue Fern, here seen unfurling in the spring. 

 It is different from other British native ferns because its fronds (not leaves with a fern) are undivided.

It grows happily in lime-rich soils and even on limestone walls.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Brambles swallowing beech trees

We have nine young beech trees growing on the Vilner Farm side of the Cowshed Field but unfortunately they are being swamped by brambles.

Another job for our volunteers.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Tree ID: Field Maple

Distinctive leaves of the Field Maple, a bit like a large hawthorn leaf.

Remember: maples have opposite leaves, and so also twigs in opposite pairs either side of the stem, where the leaves were the previous year.  And in winter the buds are in pairs.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Hazel and Dogwood coppice re-growth

New growth on coppiced hazel stools can grow very rapidly

The shoots are red at first and then turn green as the chlorophyll increases.

This hazel, coppiced in the winter of 2013-14 has grown as much as 3 metres in some places, despite the ravages of deer.  (The dead tree is an oak which had its bark stripped)

And last year's growth on the dogwood cut in 2014-15 is similarly vigorous. 

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Common sorrel

Closely related to docks, Common Sorrel has reddish sprays of small male and female flowers 

Unlike docks, the leaves have long lobes where the leaf stalk joins the leaf.

Where there is lots of sorrel it can tinge a whole field rusty red

Friday, 10 June 2016

Shrubs in flower

Dogwood can be recognised not only by the flowers  .  .  . 

.  .  .  but also the leaves, where the main veins never really make it to the edge of the leaf.  They start off in the right direction and then curve round parallel to the leaf edge.  

Also if you pull a dogwood leaf apart (or any other Cornus species), the latex in each broken vein solidifies into a slender thread.

Elder flowers are also in clusters, which tend to be saucer shaped rather than domed.

They have pinnate leaves with three or five leaflets on each leaf stalk.

Guelder Rose flowers are a bit like lace-cap hydrangeas with small fertile flowers in the middle and more showy infertile flowers on the edge, with no stigmas or stamens.

And the leaves are almost like maple leaves.

With all these similar flower heads, it's the leaves that help you identify the species.  The Wayfaring Tree has very pronounced veins, particularly if you look at the underside of the leaf.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Magenta Rosebay

Between posts 13 and 14 on our self-guided trail, rosettes of long pointed leaves are growing up amongst the dead stems of last year.

Some of the dead stems are topped with old seed heads

The rosebay is coming.

Charming magenta flowers but very invasive.

Lamb's tongue

Also known as ribwort plantain

Friday, 3 June 2016

Bank vole

This is a bank vole, almost indistinguishable from a field vole.  Bank voles are creatures of hedgerow and wooded places so we almost certainly have loads of them at Filnore.   They also frequent gardens, where this ne was rescued from a cat.

Bank voles are a bit smaller than their cousins the field voles but their blackish tails are longer.  

The field vole is also known as the short-tailed vole.  By now we will also have lots of field voles at Filnore in the grassland, running through little tunnels in the grass to keep hidden from hawks and foxes.  

Vole numbers drop in winter but they breed quickly in summer, with several litters of three to six babies.  These two species are an important food source for predators.  Like most prey species they don't die of old age.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Umbellifers 4: Hemlock

Hemlock is not in flower yet but the large leaves are visible.  They are flatter and more shiny than cow parsley.

This is the hemlock that killed Socrates, the Greek philosopher.  It is very poisonous.  Thankfully it can be easily recognised by the purple blotches on the stems.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Umbellifers 3: Hogweed

Third umbellifer identification article.  The huge but variable lobed leaves of Hogweed allow you to identify the plants even without flowers.

No flowers at the moment

but the flower stalks will soon be pushing up

When they do appear next month the flower heads are large and flat and much visited by insects.  Hogweed continues to flower through most of the year.

As many as a dozen small clumps of flowers are grouped into each flower head.

Much appreciated by insects for nectar and for meeting up.  Also by white crab spiders, who lurk among the flowers to pounce on visiting insects.