Tuesday, July 02, 2013

In Killingan Wood

On my way home I noticed, in the woodland edge, a beautiful red filigree of herb robert (Geranium robertianum) leaves.  The plant had, I supposed, finished its flowering and was turning colour as a final flourish as the seeds set. 

Back home I scrutinised the picture and discovered; not counting the grass and the dead oak leaf; field maple, ivy, hornbeam, bramble, yew, field rose, cherry laurel (an invasive alien) and hazel plus a couple of plants of whose identity I am uncertain, all sharing the moment.  A good example of how nature is both dynamic and intricate.

Along the same path the wood melick grass (Melica uniflora) has already gone to seed.

It is regarded as an ancient woodland indicator plant, though I always find it on the banks on the edges of the woods and, although it looks as though (like floating sweet grass) it might have harvestable seeds, I can find no evidence of any such use.  In the 1799 Letters and Papers on Agriculture, Planting &c, it is called 'wood honey-grass' and the anonymous author says of it This grass has beauty, and that only, to recommend it, unless to linnets, which are fond of the seed, which ripens in good time for them, being a very early grass.  It was said to occur at Prior Park, presumably the one near Bath designed by Alexander Pope and Capability Brown and probably still does since it is a common enough grass.

The linnet is one of the many birds that have declined alarmingly in recent times and they do need a good supply of seed year round so, as an early seeder, one can see how wood melick would have been sought by them.

Although we have not had much of a summer, the pond in Killingan Wood is already reduced to mud and remains a good, fish-free habitat for some of the wildlife that prefers temporary water bodies.

1 comment:

Robert Mankiewitz said...

we were at the wood today and were very pleased to see it did not seem to have suffered too badly from the winter's weather. Saw some butterflies too - in early March!