Sunday, 1 November 2015

Woodland treasures

I think I'm enjoying this Autumn more than any before. Maybe it's because we've had more crisp and sunny days than usual to tempt us out into the woods.

Maybe it's the company, who bring tea and soup.

Maybe it's all the yoga I have been doing, making me deeply appreciative of every little moment.

Probably all of those things.

I'm breathing in the colours,

noticing the patterns

and the pools of light

and feeling keen to find out the answers to the questions that we ask while we are out walking. 

Like what are these things exactly? I knew these were oak galls but on reading up I have discovered that these particular kind are called Cherry Galls which grow on the underside of the leaves rather than the twigs or flowers.

The gall wasp (turns out there are loads of different species of them on an oak tree) lays an egg  injecting a hormone in the leaf that causes it to grow this structure around it. If the juicy ball doesn't get pecked by birds it will fall to the ground in Autumn and later hatch into the wasp...

or be picked up by us to marvel over.

We were looking out for Fly Agerics as Suze has never seen one . Sadly we didn't catch any this time. This photo is from a different walk but we wondered how long they actually last once they sprout or whether they are hard to spot because they don't last long?

(no idea who to credit for this GIF but it's brilliant isn't it)

Turns out they live from 1-3 weeks. They needs lots of moisture to grow but too much rain can cause them to rot. They are super poisonous. They got the name Fly Ageric as they were used in fly repellent. I also just read that it was common Christmas motif on Edwardian and Victorian Christmas cards and possibly inspired Father Christmas's outfit haha!

We also wondered about this tree fungi and why they it seems to prefer the dead and decaying birch trunks. Apparently it can be lying dormant in healthy trees for years establishing itself in wounds and broken branches but when the tree dies it can't hold it back any more and it grows and grows. These 'Birch Brackets' can last around a year. It is edible but has a bitter taste.

I'm so glad we live here. So glad to be able to make the most of this marvelous time of year.

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