Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sunshine and Fine Flowers

Katie Walker has kindly sent me some more excellent butterfly and flower pictures.

Firstly, a lovely Comma butterfly basking in the spring sunshine. Like our other regular hibernators, Peacocks and Brimstones, Comma butterflies exploit the early spring nectar to get a head start to the season.


Now for the flowers;

Coltsfoot is a member of the daisy family with a very distinctive heptagonal shaped leaf.


I am greatly impressed by people who can identify plants from the vegetative structures alone, a skill I have yet to acquire. Here Katie has identified water mint for me. Pores at the end of the leaf veins know as ‘Hydathodes’ assist aquatic plants, and plants that grow in damp environments, with their water management. It seems then as if water mint has these structures. (Double click a photograph to get the larger version.)

Now the violets are starting to appear too. As soon as I see violets I start to think about fritillary butterflies.


Finally a representative of the pea family, gorse; According to Francis Rose (The Wildflower Key), this evergreen shrub can flower all year round, with the peak flowering time in April.
Which reminds me of the occasion when Dan Hoare of Butterfly Conservation told me how I could quickly distinguish between gorse and broom. “Gorse hurts, broom doesn’t!”, he said, with reference of course to the long, sharp thorns found on gorse.

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