#365daysofbiking The rise and gall:
September 12th – I’ve been watching the robin’s pincushion gall I found in Darlaston mature as the weeks pass by. I’m interested to see if it shows any sign of being vacated by the insects who grow inside it, and also observe how it decays, to find out what’s under the ‘fur’.
It’s grown redder, and the fur seems to be dying away, with a cavity open on the upper side. I wonder if the wasps have left?
These creations of parasites – unique to wild and dog roses – are absolutely fascinating and I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as autumn draws on.
August 15th – Also ripening in the hedgerows and waysides are a large variety of different rose hips in a range of shades and shapes. From cherry red and almost spherical to more oval and orange.
Again, these fruits will help sustain birds and other small animals into the winter and will be bright and beautiful in the late summer when traditionally the colour from flowers subsides.
August 5th – Boater dogs are always the best.
This one, so determinedly drinking from the canal y Silver Street bridge in Brownhills that I couldn’t distract it, was a lovely animal belonging to nearby narrow boaters. He seems to enjoy running along the towpaths while his boss is piloting the boat.
I saw them later in Walsall Wood and boy, that dog can run!
July 30th – Nipping out of work in the earl m morning on a cafe run, passing a familiar patch of waste ground, I finally found something I’ve been looking for for a few weeks without luck; a robin’s pincushion gall.
This hairy mass on dog and wild roses is, like the knopper and marble galls on oaks, an insect gall; a tiny wasp lays eggs by injecting them into a leaf-bud surrounded by DNA corrupting chemicals that cause this odd growth to form rather than a leaf.
Beneath the bristles, there’s a solid ball of plant matter with cavities within which the larva grow and develop in safety; when ready, like other galls, they eat their way to freedom and adulthood.
The gall doesn’t harm the plant at all. It’s a remarkable thing.
July 24th – Also coming on to show well right now are the rosehips – the fruit of the rose flower, either the dog rose, or the feral scopes that dot the hedgerows, canal towpaths and footpaths of the area.
I love the variety of textures, colours and shapes.
They bring a second splash of welcome colour when the rose flowers themselves have decayed for another year…