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Native dominants or botanical 'thugs’ in woodland.

Native dominants or botanical ‘thugs’ in woodland.

by Lewis ~ 28 March, 2014 ~ 2 comments

Much has been written  recent in recent years about the ‘dangers’ posed to our native flora & ecosystems by ‘alien’ invasive species.  Introduced species such Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), and Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) have been cited as ‘drivers’ of ecosystem change – alongside habitat loss, pollution and over-exploitation.

However, voices have been raised to express concern over certain native species that can grow rapidly producing large amount of biomass (or indeed necromass – think bracken dying down in late autumn) and how they may be impacting on our flora, particularly plants of the woodland herb or field layer.  Read more...

Leaf variation - Holly (and Ivy).

Leaf variation – Holly (and Ivy).

by Lewis ~ 17 March, 2011 ~ 5 comments

Holly leaves are prickly.   But the leaves of the lower twigs and branches are said to have more prickles than the those higher up the tree.   Ivy (Hedera) has lobed leaves but entire leaves can be found on the projecting branches (which bear flowers and fruits) – again often high up and in the light.

The range in variation in any species can be considerable – thinking about holly, their leaves may vary in :

  • The number of spines on a leaf
  • The number of spines on each side of the leaf
  • The length of the leaf (do longer leaves have more spines?) Read more...
Holly, predicting the weather ?

Holly, predicting the weather ?

by Chris ~ 21 December, 2010 ~ 5 comments

Back in November, a number of papers reported that our holly trees were full with their bright red berries, and that according to folklore this was a sign that a hard winter was to come.

There is no clear logic to this, as it is the Spring weather that determines whether there are insects around for the flowers to be pollinated, plus sun and warmth in early autumn to help the berries to ripen.  The berries are particularly plump and abundant this year.  The last ‘good berry’ year was last year (2009) and the winter that followed was the coldest for some 30 years.  Already, we are experiencing cold and severe weather conditions so perhaps the berries are ‘right' again. Read more...

Our changing flora

Our changing flora

by Chris ~ 9 June, 2010 ~ 7 comments

Our changing flora

All of our present plants have arrived in the U.K. since the end of the last Ice Age, about ten to twelve thousand years ago.  Plants and animals moved north as the sheets of ice gradually retreated; they were able to do this as ‘we’ were still joined directly to parts of Europe -by a great plain with meandering rivers, so that present-day East Anglia was linked to parts of The Netherlands and North Germany. Read more...

Common Ivy (Hedera helix)

Common Ivy (Hedera helix)

by Chris ~ 6 March, 2009 ~ 11 comments

The common ivy (Hedera helix ssp helix) may be found growing in woodlands, hedgerows or on walls. Read more...

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

by Chris ~ 23 August, 2006 ~ one comment

It will not be long before the signs of autumn are apparent to all of us, especially after such a hot and dry summer. Once again the BBC, the Woodland Trust and the UK Phenology Network are inviting people to help chart the advance of autumn – by recording 6 key species – blackberry, hawthorn, swifts, conkers, ivy and oak.

The collated information will help the UK Phenology Network build up a picture of Read more...

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