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The Monthly Mushroom: Enoki in the UK – The Velvet Shank

The Monthly Mushroom: Enoki in the UK – The Velvet Shank

by Jasper ~ 11 December, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Mushrooms come in many shapes, colours and sizes, that much we all know. It is these aspects that provide really the only way for the amateur mycologist, who doesn’t have access to sophisticated DNA sequencing techniques or microscopes to look at the tiny differentiating details of the spores, to go about the troublesome business of identifying their finds.    However, neophytes embarking on their first steps into the fascinating world of mycology quickly discover two things. The first is that the forms of the fungal fruiting bodies are never fixed. They begin initially when the hyphal cells first fuse to form a tiny primordium, described poetically by Eugenia Bone in Mycophilia as “a dense little nubbin of preformed mushroom that (in many cases) contains all its cells”. Read more...

Ancient Oak Trees in the Countryside

Ancient Oak Trees in the Countryside

by Lewis ~ 4 December, 2017 ~ one comment

In recent years, countryside oaks have been subject to a survey (co-ordinated by the Woodland trust - working with the Ancient Tree Forum, the Tree Register and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.   This survey has identified some 1200 previously unknown veteran oak trees. In consequence, the total number of veteran / ancient oaks in England now stands at 3400.

Approximately four fifths of these trees are estimated as being between 400 and 600 years old, and a tenth date back some 600 to 800 years - and a few may be a thousand years old.  England is ‘rich’ in terms of its ancient or veteran Oaks - the whole of continental Europe has only two thousand such trees (approximately); most of which are in Sweden. Read more...

Wildlife and roadkill.

Wildlife and roadkill.

by Lewis ~ 21 November, 2017 ~ one comment

By 2016, some 36.7 million vehicles were registered for use on the roads of the U.K.   Whilst sound statistics are available on human deaths from car / vehicle accidents ,  there is less reliable information on roadkill - the number of various animals killed on our roads each year.  Some information can be found in government statistics (link opens a PDF file), which suggest that deer are the largest category of casualties - though foxes and badgers are not far behind.

Apart from the government stats, there are a number of other organisations like the People’s trust for endangered species (PTES) and Project Splatter that are trying to gather detailed information on roadkill, both have web sites and apps for recording details of roadkill. Read more...

Plant pigments - the xanthophylls

Plant pigments – the xanthophylls

by Chris ~ 15 November, 2017 ~ comments welcome

The chlorophylls (and there are several different types) are the main light absorbing pigments in land plants.  They are located in the chloroplasts of the palisade and spongy mesophyll layers of the leaves.  The chlorophylls mainly absorb red and blue wavelengths  of light.   Apart from the chlorophylls, plants have other pigments - often termed the accessory pigments - notably the carotenes and the xanthophylls. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom : Fly Agaric

The Monthly Mushroom : Fly Agaric

by Jasper ~ 3 November, 2017 ~ comments welcome

We find them growing in fields, on parks, lawns, even between our toes, but most of us commonly associate fungi with woodland habitats. At this time of year, our forests are positively bulging with them.  Far from the view of their mushroom and toadstool fruiting bodies, their mycelial root system of thread-like hyphae are crucial for breaking down fallen leaf litter and decaying dead wood, returning once living matter to the soil. Some, like the Armillaria or Honey Fungus, are less beneficial, parasitising living trees, stunting their growth and even killing them outright. Others however, play a much more crucial role in our woodland ecosystems. These are the mycorrhizal species.

The term mycorrhiza comes from the Greek words “mykos” for fungus and “rhiza” for root, and describes the types of fungi that form symbiotic relationships with plants. Those that penetrate plant root cells are called endomycorrhizal or arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Read more...

"Action Oak" - should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

“Action Oak” – should oak tree research be funded by DEFRA or by charity appeal?

by Angus ~ 31 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Oak trees are under threat through disease and climate change and it will cost serious money to research causes and solutions.  This could be paid for either through general taxation or by an appeal for charitable donations with help from high profile people such as celebrities and the Royal family.  The rate of required spending on oak disease is increasing.  It is proposed to set up an "Action Oak" charity appeal spearheaded by Woodland Heritage - an organisation based in Haslemere just 10 miles from the Forestry Commission's research arm at Alice Holt in Surrey.

Many people will wonder why the government isn't doing more directly through DEFRA Read more...

What the bees see .......

What the bees see …….

by Chris ~ 25 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Flower-visiting insects evolved in the Cretaceous Period (about 100 million years ago) -  a time when the major flower groups (Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons) came into being.  Flowers have a number of “ploys’ to encourage pollinators to visit them - for example, by their colour, scent, reflectance, size, outline, temperature, motion and nectar guides. The latter are markings or patterns on the petals and floral parts to guide bees, bumblebees or other pollinators towards the nectar and to encourage pollination.  This link (click here) shows how a flower might appear to a bee or butterfly - due their sensitivity to U.V light. Read more...

How George Peterken helped to save Britain's ancient woodlands, and his new book - "Woodland Development"

How George Peterken helped to save Britain’s ancient woodlands, and his new book – “Woodland Development”

by Angus ~ 20 October, 2017 ~ one comment

I met up with George Peterken, the man who has probably done more than any living person to protect Britain's ancient Woodlands.  He continues to study woods in fine detail to find out how they actually work and he has written a new book, "Woodland Development" where he explains how a 70-year study of Lady Park Woodland in the Wye Valley has revealed detail on how a broadleaved woodland develops.  Young trees that are just slightly larger than others at the beginning tend to stay larger: "within the first decade, probably sooner, those which are destined to become big trees will have already established themselves as the larger saplings - it's like the boat race: getting an early lead means you probably win in the long run."   Read more...

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