Saturday, 5 August 2017

Made it!

A few days ago I set out walking to Kentle Wood, but got side tracked to such an extent that I never got there. Today I displayed more fortitude and made it!
We are now into August and galls are beginning to be more obvious on plants everywhere but today I particularly noticed those on wild roses. The Robin's Pin Cushion, otherwise known as the Bedeguar Gall is well-known, not just because it is large - up to about four centimetres across - but because it also persists, often being obvious well into the winter.
Robin's Pin Cushion. These galls become obvious from mid-summer
onwards. Kentle Wood, Daventry. 4 August, 2017
It is the work of a cynipid wasp, Diplolepis rosae, and it is a close relative, Diplolepis nervosa, which creates what I call the Sputnik Gall. More properly called the Rose Pea Gall, it is spherical with between two and six spikes. It is less obvious than the Robin's Pin Cushion not only because it is smaller but, as it is formed on a leaf, it is lost to sight in autumn when the leaves fall to the ground.
Diplolepis nervosa causes a spherical gall. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
4 August, 2017
Tar Spot is of course not a gall as there are no swellings or lumps that might justify such a description. It is a blotch caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum and I only mention it because a sycamore I saw today was so badly affected.
Not a gall at all. Tar spot on sycamore, 4 August, 2017
In general, when we refer to fungi we tend to think of mushrooms and toadstools and the only obvious fungus I noted today was a puffball, Calvatia gigantea. They frequently grow to the size  of a football and unsurprisingly it is known as the Giant Puffball. The three examples I found today were far smaller, with the largest only being tennis ball size. It had been partially eaten (slugs, mice?) but I have eaten them when firm and young (I mean the puffball was firm and young, I was older) and they are delicious.
A much nibbled Giant Puffball. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
4 August, 2017
As for insects nothing remarkable was noted. The moth, Carcina quercana, was taken and released after being photographed. Its long antennae are a distinguishing feature.

A rather pale form of Carcina quercana. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
4 August, 2017
Known by the clumsy name of the Long-horned Flat-body it is widespread across Britain with the food plant being any of a wide range of trees and shrubs.
Among the plants noted was Red Bartsia, Odontites vernus, a hemi-parasite in the Orobanchaceae family. It has perfectly functioning green leaves but its roots tap into grasses to obtain extra nutrients.
Red Bartsia is scattered along the rides at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
4 August, 2017
It is generally widespread in Northamptonshire but its description in the latest (2012) flora of the county includes the comment: 'It is less common on the Midland Clay pastures in the west of the county and in part of the area, roughly centred on Daventry, seems to be completely absent'. Well, a mile or so from the centre of Daventry, and here it was, in some quantity. The common name is, on the face of it, a puzzle, and people frequently stop me in the street to ask about its origin. [Ed. I suspect you may be exaggerating just a little here!] The species was for a long time known as Bartsia odontites and was named in honour of Johann Bartsch of Konisberg; he had Latinised his name (as did Linnaeus - Carl von Linne) and others) becoming Johannes Bartsius. There, I can now relax and not worry about it!

Number of species recorded from Kentle Wood now stands at 479 482, 45 of which are plants.



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