Friday, 29 November 2013

Raindrops keep falling on my head

It seems that we have had rain pretty constantly for the past two months, although I know we did actually have one or two dryish days. Interestingly enough, when it's raining you can't get those attractive shots with water droplets on mosses and other things: it's too wet. But when the rain drops to a drizzle or mist, then we can get those eye-catching shots where the water is just gathering, but isn't getting blasted off by new raindrops all the time. Yesterday was one of those days.

Woody Nightshade, or Bittersweet, is a member of the Solanum family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines (and these are all closely related to tobacco, peppers and petunias, amongst others).

Woody Nightshade - Solanum dulcamara
I had always associated the Solanum family with the Americas, since that's where tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco came from, but I note from the references that Solanum dulcamara is documented as a native. This jarred with me a bit, as another interest of mine is the origin of national cuisines: try imagining Italian food without tomatoes or Indian without chillies. So I began to wonder whether the diversity of all those foodstuffs in one place was a series of genetic flukes or the interference of the human hand. It turns out that the Solanum family is very widespread, but is most diverse in south and central americas. Add in the fact that the americas were effectively isolated from world trade routes until the 16th century, and it is quite possible that this family of plants, possibly aided by congenial weather and geography, diversified with some human assistance in glorious isolation until the european trade built up.

Did anyone notice the fly on the droplet under the fruit furthest on the left?

Ivy-leaved Toadflax grows on most of the old walls around here, and can be seen in flower all year round:

Ivy-leaved Toadflax

Mosses are always good for droplet shots, and a particular fencepost is always fruitful. This specimen of Tortula muralis sports two distinct sets of droplets: one on the capsule-bearing setae and the other set on the much lower leaves.

Droplets on the moss Tortula muralis

Another angle and specimen brought up this shot of two capsules with a suspended piece of spider's web between them:

Tortula muralis with spider's web droplets
Ivy is a major source of late nectar for insects, and the overall flower display seems to last a couple of months, although individual flowers are very short-lived:

Ivy flowers
The five-sided fruit are starting to show now:
Ivy fruit

1 comment:

The Weaver of Grass said...

These are exquisite photographs Stuart - what a difference a raindrop makes.