Tuesday, October 28, 2008

World's smallest coppice?

I have, as I do every year, cut back my three sallow trees (actually two grey sallow, Salix cinerea, and one goat willow, Salix caprea) now all the leaves have gone (mostly eaten by sawfly larvae).

The pictures below show the situation before and after the coppicing and sharp-eyed visitors may be able to see where some of the twigs top left have disappeared.

20081027 Wbx 002

20081027 Wbx  003

I took the cut off twigs and shaped them into a bundle.  I call these 'woodcharms' but I suppose the correct term is 'faggots', a word deriving from the same root as 'fascist' (from the bundles of rods, or fasces, carried by people in power and authority in ancient Rome). 

20081027 Wbx Salix woodcharm faggot

A faggot was, like mine, bound with two ties.  If only one tie had been used it would have been a bavin (I now feel moved to make a bavin so I can legitimately use this word).

My faggots are also a bit small.  A short faggot would have been 24 inches (61 cm) round and 32 inches (81.3 cm) long and a long faggot 24 inches round and 48 inches (121.9 cm) long.  I guess mine is a microfaggot.

I have put this microfaggot alongside the northern end of the window box and one of the cut sallow stools can be seen top right of the photo.  Hopefully this will help to rebuild the soil level which still continues to shrink and drop.  This year I will leave any fallen leaves that blow into the box, though I don't think these will help much.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The striped gold midget

Some dark blotches on several of the leaves of the Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) have proved to be the upper side of the leaf mine of the striped gold midget (Phyllonorycter emberizaepenella).

20081018 P emberizaepenella 3

'Phyllonorycter' means 'leaf-digger' and 'emberizaepenella' 'bunting-winged' so the vernacular name should, perhaps be 'bunting- winged leaf-digger'. But there are some further complexities with this wonderfully Ciceronian scientific name: the second half of the specific name derives from Latin penna meaning a wing. This would give two n's in emberizaepenella and the fact that there is only one is said to be a typographical error. Unless a properly recorded earlier version of the specific name of this moth is found the misspelt version has to remain under the international rules of nomenclature.

The moth is said to widespread but very local and the larvae feed also on honeysuckles and snowberry. There are no records for the species in East Sussex in the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre's database. There is however a dot for East Sussex in The moths and butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland, so it must have been found. It is, however, listed by the Record Centre as occurring at Ebernoe Common, West Sussex.