Sunday, December 28, 2008

Varied seed heads

Now the coldest winter here for several years and today with hard frost.

Everything in Emthree is brown and silent, clamped in winter's icy vice.  I expect the consequences next spring and summer will be better than if we had had a mild winter though.

20081225 Metre 004

20081225 Metre 002Dead stems and seed heads provide some interest and it is useful, say, to learn what perforate St. John's wort (top above) or common figwort (lower above) look like in fruit.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas surprise

On a quick visit on a sunny Christmas Day I was pleased and surprised to find several groups of the shining ink cap (Coprinus micaceus).

20081225 Metre 007

Although it often comes up in grassy places it is a species that grows on decaying, often buried, wood.

The species is sometimes said to be edible and is not poisonous as such.  Like other members of the genus it does, however, have an adverse effect if eaten in combination with alcohol and is therefore best avoided.  It is small and hardly worth it anyway.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Midwinter's Day

The shortest day brought a fine, sunny afternoon, but the Square Metre looked drab and tangled after a quite long period of frost and wet.

20081221 Metre Iris foetidissima One of the most striking objects was a fan of leaves made by a plant of stinking iris (Iris foetidissima) growing under the medlar tree.  After flowering they produce red berries which, clearly, are eaten by birds who later void the seeds.  We have three plants in the study area that have originated in this way, but you have to be able to see a youngish plant flat on to get this pandanus-like effect.