Monday, June 15, 2009

Whacky plants

Bird's-nest orchid Neottia nidus-avis

In a woodland, not so far from home, is the weird and wonderful bird's nest orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) - a honey-coloured, honey-smelling saprophytic plant (i.e. grows on or derives nutrition from dead/decaying organic matter).

Ooops! I used the word 'saprophyte' above, lifted from my old edition of Rose (The Widlflower Key, 1981) - but actually I'm incorrect. Mycologist's appear to be a little miffed at botanists for repeatedly getting this wrong. So let's put the record straight. Bird's nest orchid is an achlorophyllous (has no chlorophyll) myco-heterophyte (parasitic on fungi as its main carbon source) (see links below).

Another whacky plant, which I am glad to say grows in the verge down my road (despite the best efforts of the council/utilities companies to eradicate it), is the common broomrape (Orobanche minor). Broomrapes look a bit like orchids but they are not. They lack chlorophyll and are parasites on other plants.




Common broomrape Orobanche minor



Useful links:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roger's Weeds

Cornflower Centaurea cyanus

Ahh Beeston! Yet another lazy Sunday morning at Cos Lodge with the Beeston Wildlife Group.

Did I say lazy? I meant indulgent.

Mothing, birding, ambling amidst the wildflowers and of course, chatting. There is always such an alarming amount to do!

Despite an heady overdose of anti-hayfever meds I ventured a close encounter with Roger's arable weed patch. It was in full bloom with cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and corncockle (Agrostemma githago) putting on a summertime show.

Corncockle Agrostemma githago

Its a shame that this is such a rare sight these days. Our native arable plants have declined alarmingly in the UK in the last 60 years or so. Roger's small patch is a glimpse of how cornfields used to look.

Useful links: http://www.arableplants.fieldguide.co.uk/?P=home&SHC=4&PSD=1