Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Weird and wonderful seedpods

Even though we've photographed these before I just couldn't pass this flower by. It's a desert mullein, Verbascum (fruticosum probably), just starting to bloom now. It seems each flower is quite ephemeral, blooming then dropping quickly off the spike. Note the pale, hairy almost succulent leaves, adapted to the dry days of May onwards.

I call this the 'spiky seedpod from hell' I haven't found what plant produces it yet but it's evidently very common because we usually find these embedded in the soles of our shoes, in our socks etc. You DON'T want to step on this in bare feet and you usually end up pricking yourself trying to remove them by hand. I measured this one at about 1.5 cm long x 1 cm high x 1 cm width at widest spines.

It's not the commonest intrusion in shoes though, those tend to be grass seeds of various kinds and a tiny burrs totally covered with velcro like tiny spines that look like a miniscule caterpillars and stick to socks and shoe laces or any other appropriate cloth surface in scores. I'm still picking them out hours later!

Much more inoffensive and charming are the seedpods of Medicago orbicularis, a very common clover like plant with yellow flowers. Indeed probably one of the yellow clovers we photographed this season was probably this. It's also called 'round fruited medick or button clover, and like many other clovers this plant can fix nitrogen in the soil.

Just how small is a mustard seed? Above, wild mustard seedpods, below, pod opened. The seeds measure 2 mm across or slightly more.

Hyraxes seen on the way down the trail from north loop of valley road to north valley trail, scuttled off under the boulders for cover on our approach. No luck on gazelles today.

Calls in the pines to our right (east) down that connecting trail and some brief sightings revealed that there great spotted cuckoos had been successful in hoodwinking the hoodies . Hooded crows were tending two young cuckoos which were already quite good fliers and able to move from tree top to tree top. Amazing how the crows will viciously attack adults but will tend their foster children without recognizing the difference.

Two hoopoes, husband glimpsed one or two more so could be a family group, foraging and moving more or less together between bat cave and hidden water course. Great tits active in that upper area and from the sound of it, also white spectacled bulbul young not far off. Wheatear type calls heard farther north. Collared doves and turtle doves active cooing in the woods, laughing doves in gardens and close to buildings. Hooded crows, jackdaws, jays about as usual. Graceful warblers and blackbirds also vocal and active, some blackbird song. Stone curlews heard after sunset.

weather: 17.5-25 degrees C Time of walk, about 6.30 p.m. ~21.5 degrees C, 50% humidities winds westerlies 6-9 knots

1 comment:

Aristatolis said...

it's very natural...
and very beautyfull

best regard
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