Sunday, 21 March 2010

Now we're moving

I know my patch pretty well, so I went round the locations where I know I can find the earliest specimens.

First, I found Coltsfoot in flower:

Coltsfoot is particularly interesting: the flowers appear long before the leaves. The stem is also covered in fine, gossamer-like, hairs:

When the flower first opens, it faces vertically upwards. But later on, the stem curves, and the flowers point outwards, or even downwards. When the seedhead forms, the stem is upright once more. I'm not sure why this effect takes place, but I rather suspect the aim is to protect the developing seedhead, whilst maximising the eventual potential for seed dispersal. The mechanism involves the reduction in length of the white hairs (or more likely, a temporary hold on the hair lengthening), forcing the stem to curve. I'll show the various stages over the next few weeks.

South-facing specimens of Lesser Celandine are now fully open, so the early hoverflies will be around this week:

Another early flower is the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage:

Although the flowers are minute, the bracts behind the flowers brighten up ditches and streams.

Lastly for today, Wood Sorrel has opened up:

This is a long-range shot of a couple of flowers on the far side of a very deep ditch.

1 comment:

Gill said...

Lovely to see the spring flowers at last. I think the curving (then straightening) of coltsfoot stems is due to differential growth on the two sides of the stem since they get progressively longer as the seeds form - though it is quite possible the hairs are also involved. [In fact the first "movement" is straightening for me since the flower buds hang down.]

I'm still waiting to see wood sorrel, which is one of my all-time favourite flowers.