Monday, 5 July 2010

Prickles

This morning, Malcolm and I took a walk around Mapperley Reservoir, up through the village of Mapperley and back toward home. The sun shone through the clouds as they scudded quickly across the sky in the blustery wind. Here is an interactive map of our route.....
The plants belonging to the thistle family are all flowering magnificently at the moment. The first of these is the Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). This is a common thistle throughout the British Isles, especially in rural areas. The large flower heads contain many individual flowers, which are self fertilizing and very important to many species of insect.
Secondly, the Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre). A tall, spindly plant topped with numerous flower heads and covered all over with some pretty fearsome spines.
These particular Marsh Thistles were about 4ft tall and attracting large numbers of bees as they waved in the strong breeze.
The last pictures for today are from another member of the same family which contains the thistle, namely the compositae. This time the flowers belong to the Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa). This is a truly statuesque plant with it's basal leaves reaching at least two feet long and the whole plant being more than 6ft tall. The flowers are of particular note. They are borne in a globular structure called a capitulum. The many bracts of the flowers are tipped with tiny hooks - just visible in this picture - which help the dispersal of seed when ripe, by attaching to passing animals and people. This ensures maximum possible dispersal of it's seeds.
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