Friday, July 24, 2009

Autumn's come in a bit sudden?

In between the thunder, lightening and torrential rain, which has come to characterise much of the latter part of July 2009, I managed to dodge the worst the weather could throw at me and had a quick scamper down the road armed with camera today.

Of course, the wind was blowing something rotten and nothing would sit still long enough to be photographed properly.

I indulged in some early blackberrying - which was very tasty.

Rubus fruticosus - the wonderful bramble
Much, much cheaper to pick your own than buy in the shops.

The Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) bushes at Sandy station were looking fine with their bright red berries.


Viburnum opulus - Guelder rose
I am guessing 'Guelder' is derived from Gelderland in the Netherlands (just checked some etymological dictionaries and that seems to be correct). Guelder rose looks brilliant all year. I took a picture of a bush in flower when I was at Wicken Fen in May this year.
Guelder rose in flower at Wicken Fen May 12th 2009
The flowerheads are not only gorgeous, they are really interesting. The conspicuous, showy outer flowers are actually sterile and just serve to attract pollinators to the inner fertile flowers. The inflorescence itself is called a cymose corymb. Wikipedia explains all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflorescence

A diagrammatic cymose corymb from Wikipedia.
Guelder rose, also known as cramp bark, is much loved by herbalists. They call it Vib op. The dried bark is used for - you guessed it - cramps and spasms.
The berries are in turn much beloved of birds.
I am reliably informed that one can make a jelly from those scarlet berries; a kind of 'poor man's cranberry sauce'. If cooked and eaten in only small quantities they are apparently OK to eat. That is cooked not raw. Recipe is basically guelder rose berries and equal weight of crab apples + sugar. Phew - bet that's tart. Hmmmm. Not tried it myself. May do so if the birds don't get them all.

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