Friday, 4 September 2009

Spindle

There is a tree, native to Britain, with which you may not be familiar. It is called the Spindle (Euonymus europaeus).
The fruits which are now starting to ripen, are a delicate shade of pink and four-sectioned. Children are often attracted to these unusually-coloured fruits, which is unfortunate as they are poisonous. The fruits contain theobromine and caffeine as well as a bitter -tasting compound called terpene. These poisons together can cause liver and kidney damage and even death.
The name Spindle comes from the fact that the wood of this plant is very hard and has been used in times past to make spindles for the wool-spinning industry.
A rather handsome bug was also in evidence this morning, crawling among the leaves of a nearby Alder tree. The Hawthorn Shield Bug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), firstly the adult:
Both the adult and the nymph (immature form) of this species were sitting together on a leaf and here is that nymph.
Although called 'Hawthorn' Shield Bug, they eat the leaves of many different deciduous trees and shrubs, which explains why they were siting on the Alders. Theses Bugs are now common across Britain, but they have spread this far only during the last 150 years. In 1892, they had only got as far north as Birmingham.
Quite large at about 17mm long and colourful, they make an impressive sight on the leaves of the trees.
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