Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The last day of winter!

The weather has been rather untrustworthy lately (Really, in Britain? Who would believe it!) so I have had to be content with a few brief visits to Stefen Hill Pocket Park. It is interesting in many ways, but so many people walk their dogs there, with consequent little piles of ordure, that seeking organisms at ground level is fraught with risk. Ironic that clumps of Dog Violets, Viola canina, are now in bloom. Their fragrance is not strong in the still rather chilly air but is distinctive. The flowers tend to be white.

Always pleasing to find. Sweet Violets in Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
19 March, 2019
Many of the plants present are not native, with Firethorn, Pyracantha coccinea, being rather frequent around the margins of the area. It is often visited by insects and the fruit attracts birds in the autumn and winter. Unfortunately it is subject to insect attack.

Perhaps the most notorious of these is the Firethorn Leaf Miner. It is a small moth, Phyllonorycter leucographella, and an example of a tiny creature with an inordinately long name. This is a widespread pest and has featured in my blogs before, but to be fair I have yet to find it causing unacceptable damage - just a groove-like mine down the midrib of the leaves.
The Firethorn Leaf Miner is a pest, but hardly a devastating one.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 19 March, 2019

Much easier to overlook are the galls caused by a fungus, Protomyces macrosporus. It is widespread on Cow Parsley and is most obvious in the early months of the year, but is hardly likely to cause the heart to miss a beat.

Protomycetes macrosporus on Cow parsley Wow,!
Stefen Hill Pocket Park. 19 March, 2019
How odd it is that I should be so pleased over finding such a trivial little thing.  A bit worrying really...

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