Thursday, March 22, 2007

Maple crisis

Last night there was an air frost in the garden and a thin skin of ice in the morning on the Wbx pond. The Japanese maple leaves are expanding fast and I fear this sudden knee-jerk cold may well kill such tender shoots. They look okay at present, but this can be deceptive.

So, I have photographed them while they still look in good condition. An interesting feature is that these second year leaves are a different shape than those of the first year (see smaller picture) and much more like traditional Japanese maple leaves.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pointed spear-moss (Calliergonella cuspidata)

Among the many species of moss, mostly unidentified, colonising Wbx, I noticed the one above today. It is pointed spear-moss (Calliergonella cuspidata), a species I have only just started noticing in the garden here.

Usually a moss of rather wet habitats, Wbx is maybe the equivalent of a dune slack in some respects and, in winter, quite water retentive.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Flower bug (Anthocoris nemorum) in action

I was looking at the expanding bud on the Japanese maple again today and noticed a flower bug, (Anthocoris nemorum) on the outside. Having taken a photo and enlarged it I discovered it was dining on a juicy aphid, thus ridding the maple of a destructive pest.

Southwood and Leston in their Land and Water Bugsof the British Isles say of this species that when they come out of hibernation they "feed on aphids, psyllids and other small animals and occasionally on leaves." Let's hope this bug doesn't become a vegetarian.

If you look carefully at a larger size of the photo you will see that the bug has its proboscis well thrust into the belly of the hapless aphid.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The maple stirs

The ornamental maple with the long-tailed leaves has survived both the summer and the winter and is stirring again with a slow expansion of its claw-like bud. (See 29 April 2006)

Once again, I would be grateful if anyone could suggest a name or knows of any other plants like it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Corn mildew (Blumeria graminis)

Wbx's only grass plant (Poa annua I think) has much powdery mildew on the leaves.

There is only one mildew like this that found on grasses and this example must therefore be Blumeria graminis (formerly Erisyphe graminis). It prefers relatively cool and humid conditions and the recent weather must have been much to its liking. While I am sure that this is quite a common species in Sussex, there appear to be no earlier records for the county on the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre's database. However, I am sure this is simply because people either have not looked for it, or have overlooked it.

Hopefully the grass will flower later in the spring and I will be able to name it with greater certainty.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Budding dandelion (Taraxacum sp.)

There is a bud in the heart of one of the two dandelion plants in Wbx but, overall, the plant does not look too healthy with several leaves afflicted by rusts and mildews. I thought how much these buds resemble a rolled pill millipede (Glomeris marginata) - see top picture.

The greater plantain looks good though as the new leaves appear. Some plantains retain their leaves overwinter and are therefore perhaps more susceptible to fungal and other infections.

By the sallow log there are male flowers of capillary thread-moss, Bryum cappilare and one of the sallows is starting to sprout.