Monday, 23 September 2013

Practical Session Report - September

For many months we've been enjoying the wonderful flowers that the plants within the churchyard produce. At first, we had to wait as the year seemed to take much longer than expected to wake up. But when it eventually did, it provided the animals with food and us with joy. There was an ever-increasing flurry of activity from April to July as more and more plants started to flower.

August was the month where everything slowed down and our records show that while many plants continued to flower from previous months, only two plants began flowering in August. Those were the Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) near the Yew trees next to the side wall and a brief flowering from the Devilsbit Scabious (Succisa pratensis). Now we're in to September and some plants have carried on flowering, but no new plants were in flower.

This month's star of the show: A Speckled Wood resting on some Ivy
However, all was not lost! As the autumn provides is with lots of colour in the form of the fruits made by the plants in the hope of providing the next generation. In the churchyard we have a wide range of coloured fruits from pure white through to orange and red, all the way to black.

Here we have the various stages of fruit growth on the snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) to the left, with the specific epithet of the species name - albus - referring to white. We have the bright orange fruits of the stinking iris (Iris foetidissima) on the right.

Red is a fruit colour that we're all familiar with. It seems that the red colouring has co-evolved with birds, who have vision sensitive to red. The Yew (Taxus baccata) berry to the right is even named for the bright red berries - with baccata meaning bearing red berries. To the right we can see the cluster of red berries that are developed on the plant lords and ladies (Arum maculatum).

The fruits above are from the Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum). These berries initially start off being a white/yellow colour and as the develop turn red and eventually to black.

It is important that you don't eat any of these berries. As well as being vital food for birds as the weather gets harsher over the months leading to winter many are poisonous.

The year is not yet over, in the next couple of months we will look forward to seeing the ivy in flower, attracting many invertebrates such as flies and wasps; and watching for the holly berries as they turn from a green/orange colour to bright red.

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