Friday, 18 March 2011

Full steam ahead

After a wet early start, St. Patrick's day eventually brightened up and I went to an area that always provides early interest. This is the view looking north into an Ash wood with a stream along the right hand side.

View north into the Ash trees
Lesser Celandine is out all along the edge of the stream:

Lesser Celandine with Creeping Buttercup leaves to the right
No time is wasted before the fungal rusts appear. This is Uromyces dactylidis, which is common on leaves of various Ranunculus species, especially Lesser Celandine:

The fungal rust Uromyces dactylidis on Lesser Celandine 
And Puccinia lapsanae, which grows exclusively on Nipplewort. Notice that the rust has forced the leaf to grow a 'bulge', which serves to increase the available area for spore production/dispersal of the Puccinia:

Puccinia lapsanae on Nipplewort leaf

The ditch is also home for Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, which has to be one of the most symmetrical plants I know:
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage in flower
My last post showed an old mine of the micromoth Stigmella aurella on bramble. This leaf has at least 6 mines, some of which are currently occupied:

At least 6 mines of the micromoth Stigmella aurella on Bramble

This shot shows one of the micromoth larvae actively mining from left to right. Notice that the mine has abruptly turned right just before the margin: there must be something that the larva can detect that makes it turn before it is in danger of falling out of the leaf.
Larva of the micromoth Stigmella aurella
That shot is taken from below the leaf looking upwards, and shows light shining through the upper surface of the leaf, through the larva and through the lower surface of the leaf. Given that the leaf is no more than a millimetre thick, the larva is probably around 500 microns thick (and 3 millimetres long).

The ditch wall has many mosses and liverworts; these capsules belong to the moss Bryum capillare. Last year's capsules are still present, and the leaves of the Bryum can be seen to the bottom right of the image.

Capsules of Bryum capillare

Lastly for today, flowers of Hairy Bittercress, also known as Jumping Cress. If you want to discover the origin of the second name, just touch some ripe seedpods.
Hairy Bittercress (also known as Jumping Cress)


Gill said...

Interesting pic of jumping cress - it seems to have more petals than usual (4?). And fantastic shot of the micro larva.

Emma Springfield said...

What lovely pictures. I spent much of St Patrick's Day watching specials that show a lot of Irish scenery. It is such a beautiful country. All my little Irish people were here to wish with me that we could be there to see it in person.