BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘seeds’

#365daysofbiking – Silken

April 25th – In recent days I recorded the the female flowering of the sallow trees in Walsall Wood. At the Old Cement Works Bridge in Brownhills, the catkins are starting to go to seed.

The spines of the flower heads split and curl away, releasing the downy, silken fluff inside, each one attached to a tiny seed, easily carried long distances on the wind or any moving thing.

A fascinating and beautiful mechanism that will see the area around these trees soon coated in fluffy down.

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#365daysofbiking Prepare to be fluffed

April 20th – I see on the canal near Walsall Wood that the sallow trees are coming into blossom. These spiny female catkins will soon start spewing huge amounts of fluff.

Sallow or goat willow is a member of the wider willow family, and grows profusely hereabouts. After the initial pretty male catkins have passed – pussy willows – then come the female catkins that you can see here. Once these peculiar green flowers pollinate, they generate wind-borne seeds in a few weeks: these evolve in the form of a large cloud of fluff that for a few days will coat the canal, towpaths, woodland paths, verges and road margins.

Sallows are not the only willow to do this peculiar thing, but they are certainly the largest group to do it hereabouts.

Bizarre, but fun…

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#365daysofbiking Beaming!

September 3rd – Hornbeam trees are fascinating. Often mistaken (particularly by me) for beech, the leaves are perfectly ridged and beautiful, but the seeds, in long drop chains a bit like sycamore, are fascinating.

They’re ripening now and will soon be dappling the cycleways, pavements and industrial estate backways with golden brown mast.

Autumn’s colours may be more muted, but they’re still gorgeous.

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#365daysofbiking Thistle and down

August 8th – Winching myself up Shire Oak Hill past Sandhills at the end of another long day, I noticed the thistles in the hedgerow, now gone to seed.

The breeze will soon catch those tufts of fluff and carry the attached seeds on the wind, hopefully to fertile fresh soil.

I loved how silly and beautiful the downy, soft seed carries were and how they caught the light. Thistles really are beautiful plants.

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#365daysofbiking Feet first

August 5th – Birdsfoot Trefoil is a staple throughout summer from the earliest of the season until autumn. It dapples lawns, verges and meadows with yellow and red patches, and is one of my favourite flowers.

Not many folk though realise how this plant got it\’s unusual name – it’s because the seed pods look like a bird’s feet.

This gorgeous flower is so very ubiquitous that it’s one of the few wildflowers I love that I’ve never bothered to collect the seed of and spread.

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#365daysofbiking Make a wish

July 10th – By the cycleway in Telford, I found this lovely seed head. It takes a jolly good breath to blow the seeds off these!

Not a dandelion – far too large, at least a couple of inches in diameter, with big, stout wind-borne seeds. The plant itself was a good couple of feet tall.

Following enquiries on social media it turns out to be salsify, or goat’s beard, a plant once prized for it’s edible root.

I can’t say i’ve ever noticed the flowers, though. I must look harder now I know what to spot.

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#365daysofbiking Fluffed up

:

May 1st – On the McLean Way early in the morning for a change (the old South Staffordshire Railway route from Brownhills to Walsall) I noted at Ryders Hayes that the sallow  seeds were ripe and drifting on the breeze coating everything with fine white downy fluff.

Sallow isn’t the only member of the willow family to do this, nor is it the only species of tree, but it’s always fun to see, if a bit challenging to the airways to cycle through!

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#365daysofbiking Waiting for a fluff explosion


April 17th – On the way to work near Greern Lane, Shelfield, I notice the sallows are flowering now, and this is one of the more interesting blooms of springtime.

Sallow or goat willow is a member of the wider willow family, and grows profusely hereabouts. After the initial pretty male catkins have passed – pussy willows – then come the female catkins that were so well on show today. Once these peculiar green flowers pollinate, they generate wind-borne seeds in a few weeks: these evolve in the form of a large cloud of fluff that for a few days will coat the canal, towpaths, woodland paths, verges and road margins.

For now though in the spring sunshine of a warm, lovely morning – they look like something prehistoric, and in reality, probably are.

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August 1st – One of the less obvious food sources for smaller birds like goldfinches are the wind-borne seeds of dandelions, ragwort, thistle and here, rosebay willowherb. Growing like buddleia in any urban setting where there’s a scrap of extractable nutrition, this prolific weed has gorgeous pink flowers and produces huge amounts of fluff, containing its seeds.

Small birds will spend ages on seedbeds picking out the tiny black seeds and gorging upon them. It’s fascinating to watch, and these are an excellent source of nutrition.

Everything has a purpose in nature.

April 22nd – An odd sight in spring is always the first wind-seeding wildflowers, in this case I’m not sure what it is, possibly hawkweed. It seems almost incongruous to see seed heads at this time of year, but most flowers who seed this way do so throughout the season. 

Such beautiful, silky fluff on this one.