Thursday, 7 February 2013

Lords and Ladies (2)

Despite being free of wind the conditions today were distinctly raw but I wrapped up well and set off on a constitutional. In a garden beside the village church the leaves of a cultivated Primula had been mined by the larva of an Agromyzid fly, Chromatomyia primulae. This is very common on primroses, cowslips and their kin, but the mine is usually quite narrow, whereas the one I saw was rather wide - but I think I'm correct in my identification.
The pale mines of Chromatomyia primulae, a little
to the left of the violet flowers on this cultivar.
 Byfield, 7 February, 2013

I pushed on, entering a railway cutting leading to the sad remains of Byfield station. There on the bank Lords and Ladies, Arum maculatum, were growing strongly. This plant always puts in an early appearance, but we'll have to wait for a few weeks for the remarkable  flowers. I first mentioned the species way back on 14 November but it deserves further consideration, being such an extraordinary plant. 

                            Come rain. frost, snow or drought 
                            it rarely fails,
                            the first green leaves of spring
                            and every year like a seasoned magician,
                            it shows off its amazing conjuring trick.
                            In April it points,
                            Half-sheathed in a green glove
                            A rude brown finger. In August
                            glove and finger have disappeared
                            and it offers, equally impertinently,
                            a fist of orange berries.

                                             Trevor Hold. "Cuckoo-pint" from Chasing the Moon

The early leaves of Lords and Ladies. Byfield, 7 February, 2013

These early leaves are not yet showing the purple spots which give the plant its specific epithet of "maculatum". The spots seem to appear as its remarkable flower develops. 


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