Lungwort

Pulmonaria officinalis

A new species for the park’s lists, found in the Blackthorn Tunnel last week. The plant was not in flower but the leaves are unmistakeable: Pulmonaria officinalis, lungwort.

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Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn is an important winter food source for birds; they’re the favourite berry of blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares and are enjoyed by many other of the park’s species, including chaffinches, starlings and greenfinches.

Haws are edible though they are said to taste like overripe apples. Traditionally they were used to make jellies, wines and ketchup. They are such a prolific crop, so pretty and nearly always within reach; sometimes it seems a shame that we don’t make better use of them.

Let’s leave them to the birds: an autumnal bonanza.


Another autumnal bonanza:

More about oak galls

Yesterday’s picture of an artichoke gall among oak tree leaves produced questions and enquiries from our readers via Messenger, Facebook and our website’s below-the-line comments column. Here is more information about oak gall wasps.

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An artichoke gall on an oak tree photographed by DKG last week. The artichoke gall wasp (Andricus foecundatrix) lays its eggs in the leaf buds of an oak tree; the egg and the growing larva produce chemicals that force the tree’s extraordinary outgrowth.

This is common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica); it is a plant that grows all over the place but nobody ever seems to know its name. As the park’s summer wildflowers go to seed, the fleabane is a welcome splash of colour beside the paths.

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Carnivorous plants

The lower leaves of a teasel grow opposite each other in pairs and each pair joins together around the stem, forming a cup. The cups fill with rainwater and insects fall into the little pools where they drown.

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Selfheal

Here is another member of the Lamiaceae family: Prunella vulgaris, commonly known as selfheal or all-heal. Like the other Lamiaceae that we have looked at, red dead nettle and ground ivy, it has the characteristic two lipped zygomorphic flower and a square stem.

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