Thursday, 27 August 2009

Fruits and Flowers

A nice walk of about 6 miles this morning, along the Nutbrook Trail toward Kirk Hallam. Nice to get a decent walk after the wind and rain of yesterday. The hedgerows are full of berries as the Summer ripens into Autumn. Among the more unusual berries beginning to ripen are those belonging to the Black Bryony (Tamus communis).
The shiny, heart-shaped leaves arranged along it's climbing stems are accompanied by bunches of fruits which look a little like bunches of grapes before they ripen to a bright red. Like the rest of the plant, they are poisonous and will cause great discomfort of the stomach if eaten.
One of the few flowers to be found still in bloom at the moment, is this small, pink and delicate specimen, Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea).
According to Culpepper's Herbal, "This herb, boiled and drank, purges choleric and gross humours, and helps the sciatica; it opens obstructions of the liver, gall, and spleen, helps the jaundice, and eases the pains in the sides and hardness of the spleen, used outwardly, and is given with very good effect in agues. It helps those that have the dropsy, or the green-sickness, being much used by the Italians in powder for that purpose. It kills the worms in the belly, as is found by experience."
Another pink flower and one which I have mentioned before is the Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera).
A highly invasive species, it produces large quantities of nectar making it very attractive to pollinating insects. It then produces many seeds which are distributed by means of the seed-pod exploding and flinging them asunder. Their invasive nature has resulted in gangs of 'Balsam Bashers' in some parts of the country, as a means of controlling them.
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