BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘wildflowers’

#365daysofbiking An unexpected flash of orange



August 21st – Returning from Birmingham, the train unexpectedly terminated at Tame Bridge due to a line fault or something, maybe the elastic band snapped.

I couldn’t be bothered with the ride home up through Walsall so hopped on the Tame Valley Canal and then home via Rushall Junction, Park Hall and Aldridge.

Passing through a nondescript bit of towpath near the Birmingham Road, a flash of bright, vivid orange caught my eye.

A gorgeous par of feral marigolds, just trying to make me happy.

They succeeded in their aim.

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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 Alien carrots!

August 6th – A couple of weeks ago I featured a new plant here – wild carrot. This curious, cow-parsley like edgeland weed was readily identifiable by a single dark flower in the centre of the umbel.

Wild carrot is just as distinctive when it goes to seed. This is a seed head; slightly redolent of a clematis, it’s odd, skeletal spines and hairy seeds are quite, quite alien and rather fascinating.

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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 Dark centre

July 18th – Yesterday, I found a plant that I considered may be wild carrot due to the presence of a tiny, dark flower in the centre of it’s otherwise creamy white umbrel. I wrote:

The reason I think this is wild carrot is the presence of a tiny dark flower in the centre of the head to attract insects – I’ll have another look tomorrow to verify this.

That is definitely a tiny, dark purple flower, so this plant is indeed wild carrot. Another baffling, wondrous feature you have to wonder the path towards.

This lovely wildflower was certainly keeping the overflies busy too.

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#365daysofbiking There’s always carrots

July 17th – Looking back over previous years, this prolific plant in various places has been puzzling me for ages – but I think I’ve sussed it: It’s possibly Queen Anne’s lace, or wild carrot.

This example was growing on the industrial estate where I work near Darlaston.

It looks a lot like the familiar cow parsley, but isn’t: The shape is all wrong.

The reason I think this is wild carrot is the presence of a tiny dark flower in the centre of the head to attract insects – I’ll have another look tomorrow to verify this. The plant itself is edible like normal carrots, but only when young. It has a variety of folkloric uses, including as a contraceptive, apparently.

I think I’m closer to solving this one.

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#365daysofbiking Herbivore

July 15th – The flowers continue to appear daily. Rosebay willowherb is the latest – a beautiful, tall weed, it paints wasteland, hedgerows, scrubs and derelict land with a beautiful hade of purple, complimenting the buddleia which it competes against for light and space.

In a few weeks it will seed with fluffy, wind-born seeds that float on the breeze and were locally known as ‘fairies’ when I was a kid, hence it’s colloquial name ‘Old man’s beard’.

We really should look more closely at the plants we dismiss as weeds.

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#365daysofbiking Route canal

July 12th – Wanting to ride the city canals the day before but unable to, I broke out of work, collected a mate and went for a spin down the Plants Brook/Newhall Valley and into Brum, returning via the Tame Valley.

The canals were as wonderful and peaceful as ever, and the wildflowers – those that have escaped the fanatical dedication to mowing the Canal and River Trust seems to have – are looking fabulous.

As was the Gas Street black cat, disturbed from it’s slumbers by our happy chatter.

Summer is all about rides like this.

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#365daysofbiking Thistle do

July 10th – Also wind seeding, but yet to go over are the many variety of thistle scattered about the verges, edgelands and hedgerows of the area at the moment.

One day I must look up what all these splendid and distinct variants of this beautiful plant are.

These ones found near the canal at Pier Street in Brownhills have tiny, light purple almost lavender blue flowers, whereas other type have larger, more purple blooms.

I get the feeling that thistles are far more complex than I imagine. Must look them up.

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#365daysofbiking The cycle


July 9th – I’m always interested in insect galls as regular readers will know and one of the most interesting in the UK is the robins pincushion gall, which affects wild and dog roses.

Forming the same way as oak galls – from a wasp injecting eggs into a plant bud which are coated in a plant DNA corrupting substance – pincushion galls are brightly coloured and made up of a solid nodule up to a inch or so diameter, covered in hairy spines, which if you look closely are miniature facsimiles of rose stalks, thorns and all.

Numerous larvae hatch in chambers within the gall, eating their way out as they mature.

This year on a rose where last year’s dead remains of a pincushion gall can be seen complete with cavities where the wasps emerged, there are two new ones growing about 12 inches further up the branch.

And so the lifecycle of a tiny but fascinating insect continues.

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