Monday, 5 November 2018

Gathering fallen leaves

The soil on our allotment is not the formidably sticky clay found in many parts of Northamptonshire but anything I can do to improve the texture is welcome. Dead leaves contain relatively few nutrients and will therefore do little to improve the fertility of the soil but by improving the humus content they can help with the tilth.

With this in mind I set out to gather leaves from a wooded bank nearby. The ground contains a geed selection of trees, all planted some twenty years ago, but I was loth to remove the leaves beneath them. Instead I collected the leaf litter which had blown on to a nearby path hoping that I was not robbing any important habitats.

The trees present included sycamore, beech, oak and field maple. The latter had, as far as I could see, all been coppiced.

The field maples had all been coppiced. Christchurch Drive, Daventry.
5 November, 2018
On the dead branches and twigs I had hoped to find a few fungi but I discovered little. All I managed to find was, on dead twigs of the Field Maple, Acer campestre, a tiny Crepidotus species.

Crepidotus caspari?  Stefen Hill, Daventry.
5 November, 2018
As I have often pointed out, I am not a mycologist but I feel reasonably confident that the species involved was C. caspari. Certainly under the microscope it looked right and furthermore this fungus is known to favour Acer species. Known as the Pale Oysterling it is widespread throughout the English midlands. To be absolutely certain I will need to harvest some spores.

And that was about it. A plant of Wood Avens, Geum urbanum, bore the mine of the Golden Pigmy Moth, Stigmella aurella. Like the Crepidotus it is both common and widespread. Not very exciting I'm afraid. Furthermore I was testing out, rather unsuccessfully, a new camera.
Wood Avens, a leaf mined by the larva of the Golden Pigmy moth.
Christchurch Road, Stefen Hill, Daventry. 5 November, 2018 

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