BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘plants’

#365daysofbiking Tenacity

February 14th – Having missed a train at Blake Street station, I took refuge from the cold in the waiting room.

It’s perfectly neat, tidy and cleaned well: But it’s noticeable a visitor from outside is being allowed to come in from the cold.

I loved how this ivy frond  which looked healthy and seemed to be growing well has worked in through the window frame and climbed down the electric cable.

The tenacity of plants is fantastic.

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#365daysofbiking Unusual colour

February 2nd – The Azolla bloom in the local canal, and as it matures patches of the waterway have turned a deep red.

Azolla is a small but populous growth that although strange and invasive, does little harm – it will disappear in spring as the weevils gorge on it. Winter normally sees its death, but after a very favourable summer, the winter has not been cold enough to kill it.

It’s not stringy and parts easily for passing boats and waterfowl.

But it does look very unusual.

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#365daysofbiking Life in all it’s forms

January 10th – At this time of year, I desperately scan the world around me for signs of the oncoming spring, however small or odd. Today, I spotted one.

This floating root in the canal at Walsall Wood spotted on the way to work is just such a sign. It looks like a random piece of flotsam in amongst the maturing algal bloom which in recent weeks has turned red from green. But this root is actually the front guard for a larger movement.

It’s a water lily rhizome.

These roots break from last year’s dead growth and sink to the floor of the canal, then as spring comes, they gain buoyancy and begin to float. They move with the currents, boats, winds, waterfowl moments and eventually settle and sprout roots.

In high summer they will provide a new carpet of the familiar huge leaves and bright flowers for us to enjoy.

So it’s good news: Lily thinks spring is coming!

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#365daysofbiking Lily was here

October 11th –  On the way to work on the canal Walsall Wood, I noticed something one doesn’t normally see until early spring: This floating root, probably disturbed by Canal and River Trust efforts to remove the floating algae, is a rhizome of the water lilies that are so profuse here.

This remnant of the summer plant generally sinks to the canal bottom during winter, and when the water warms in spring, it becomes buoyant, floats with other detritus and then takes root, and when rooted, will grow that season’s lilies.

It’s a curious mechanism that actually works very efficiently.

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#365daysofbiking Sugar me

September 2nd – Another product of wayside roses that’s beautiful but dare I say it, a little more mundane: The sugar-laden rosehips.

Rosehips are loved by jam, syrup and wine makers and, of course, many birds who devour the energy laden confections to fatten up for winter – and thankfully there seems to be a good crop this year.

They are beautiful colours, too…

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#365daysofbiking A rose by any other name

August 20th -Whilst in Wednesbury, I took a look at Brunswick Park, which is a lovely spot. Whilst there, I spotted these red berries. The shrub was clearly under attack from some pest or other, but the fruit looked gorgeous, and a bit familiar.

Turns out it’s guelder rose, which isn’t really a rose at all, but the white flowers are very familiar to me. The berries are very mildly toxic, but jam can be made from them. They are very bitter.

A beautiful, bright red reminder that autumn is just around the corner.

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#365daysofbiking Budgie bliss

August 1st – Groundsel is a common but interesting weed. It spreads and is host to a number of diseases and lungi that affect other plants, like rust fungi and black root rot, but is also supportive of small songbirds and a host of Lepidoptera.

Groundsel is thought to be mildly toxic to humans.

it’s been known for years that cage birds like canaries and budgerigars love groundsel (and chickweed) and as a child I was often sent to pluck some from the hedgerows for grandad’s budgie, which would devour any proffered without hesitation.

It’s a very hardy widespread weed, and is so common and unassuming, I think it largely exists unnoticed. However, if you actually stop to study it, it’s rather pretty.

Weeds are always worth a look – they can be surprisingly beautiful.

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#365daysofbiking From little acorns

July 15th – More galls: I mentioned knopper galls recently and pointed out these wasp galls deform acorn buds to form a home for the wasp larva within. I found an illustration of this in Victoria Park Darlaston.

This is a knapper gall starting to form. The acorn cap is normal, but where the smooth, rounded nascent acorn should be, there is a knobbly, textured growth which will expand to form the gall.

The DNA of the acorn has literally been corrupted or reformed to grow a home for the wasp egg within by a chemical the egg was coated with.

How does such a mechanism evolve? It’s truly wonderful.

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