Tuesday, 25 July 2017

In a car park

I popped into Daventry today to collect Chris from the Air Ambulance charity shop where she does voluntary work every Tuesday morning. I parked up and glanced at the car dash, where the clock showed that it was far too early so I got out to stretch my legs and see what was to be seen.
I had parked hard by a lime tree and noticed that tiny (4-5 mm) bugs were running around on the foliage. They were Campyloneura virgula, not surprising as it is a very common bug on a range of deciduous trees. I smiled to myself as I recalled a little rhyme we would recite as kids when we were about eight years old:

                                 I chased a bug around a tree;
                                 I'll have his blood - 'e knows I will.

We would challenge each other to say this as fast as possible and then roar with laughter at the results. Happy, innocent times.
A Stag's Horn Sumach, Rhus typhina, grew a short distance away, its strange pink-brown inflorescence making it completely unmistakeable.
Stag's Horn Sumach in Daventry town centre. 25 July, 2017

I was astonished to read recently that these can be eaten. They are dried and then grated into a powder for sprinkling on various dishes. Well, it is related to pistachio nuts - but also to poison ivy!
Rather less common, but also growing nearby, was Red-berried Elder. We are all familiar with our native Elder, Sambucus nigra but this species, Sambucus racemosa, is not a British native although, in various forms, it is found right across the northern hemisphere.
Sambucus racemosa near Daventry Library. 25 July, 2017

Not surprisingly it often escapes from gardens and has become fairly well naturalised in places. Perhaps it has a place in the larger garden but, to me, it is a curious rather than a choice plant.
I walked across the car park to see and photograph a Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, as it basked on a leaf. In yesterday's blog I touched upon the subject of climate warming and this species has certainly been affected. Not so long ago it was here only as a result of large-scale migration. These migrants continue to arrive annually but more and more this lovely insect has been over-wintering (but don't tell the Daily Mail).
A Red Admiral butterfly enjoys the sun in Daventry town centre.
25 July, 2017
As I was admiring it I noticed a plant of False-acacia, Robinia pseudoacacia, growing nearby its twisted pods reminding us that it is a member of the pea family.
False-acacia pods were developing. Daventry
town centre.25 July, 2917

It is commonly planted in Daventry as elsewhere and this was a seedling which had found a congenial spot. The young branches bear spines (actually modified stipules), clearly as a deterrent to browsing animals, but on larger, well-established trees these spines seem to be absent. Perhaps a well-grown tree is not so vulnerable to a spot of browsing.
Young trees of False-acacia bear stout spines.
Daventry town centre. 25 July, 2017

Beekeepers doubtless welcome the presence of False-acacias in the neighbourhood for its white flowers are a valuable source of nectar. Although is native to North America, where it is known as the Locust Tree, it is now often to be seen on, for example, railway banks, where it has almost attained the status of a weed. It was once hoped that mature trees would be of value for timber but in fact it has turned out to be pretty useless.
Whoops! Time's up! Now to fetch Chris and get some lunch.

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