Sunday, March 07, 2021

Looking for the flowers in Asham Wood

Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

I don't know if it's lockdown blues, but I'm very impatient for the woods to get started this spring. Asham Wood wasn't frozen as it was when I visited a few weeks ago, but it was still very closed up in the floral department, though the birds sang loudly. This is an ancient mossy East Mendip oak/ash wood that's somehow managed to survive among the quarrying and farming. The best way to get to it is to park on an elbow of Bulls Green Lane (SW of Chantry), from which a path goes underneath the bypass road and along a rutted lane between fields until it reaches the northern fringe of the wood. 

 Anyway, I photographed all the flowers I could see (though I forgot the hazel catkins). 

Chrysoplenium oppositifolium. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

Above and below, Opposite-Leaved Golden-Saxifrage (Chrysoplenium oppositifolium), one of the earliest and most diminutive of flowers, growing like a mat beside the stream. I suppose it would have been worth looking here for the very similar but less common Chrysoplenium alternifolium... next time, maybe. (*See below!) 

Chrysoplenium oppositifolium. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.


Primula vulgaris. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris, Sw: Jordviva). One of the most reassuringly predictable woodland plants in the UK. 

In Sweden it's only an introduced plant now, but there may once have been a native population on the Kullaberg, near Mölle (a spit of land in Skåne that protrudes into the Kattegat).

Leaves of Colchicum autumnale. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale, Sw: Tidlösa). No point looking for the flowers of these plants. They won't appear until September, by which time the leaves will have long gone. The species is a doubtful native in the UK, but thoroughly naturalized. 

(The little leaves in the bottom left are emerging bluebells.)

Sarcoscypha austriaca or coccinea. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

Scarlet Elf-Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca, or it may be Sarcoscypha coccinea ... they are minutely different). A winter fungus that's the brightest thing in the woods at this time of year. 

Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. pseudonarcissus. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

Wild Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. pseudonarcissus. It was just coming into flower. The tepals are paler than the corona. The leaves are rather narrow compared to garden daffs and the heads droop, but I'm not sure if those are really diagnostic features. 

Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. pseudonarcissus. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.

And now they were preparing the funeral pyre, the quivering torches and the bier, but there was no body. They came upon a flower, instead of his body, with white petals surrounding a yellow heart.

(Narcissus transformed into a flower, in Ovid's Metamorphoses Bk III, trans. A.S. Kline)

Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp. pseudonarcissus. Asham Wood, 5 March 2021.


Well whaddya know. Ten days later I was walking beside a brook near Great Elm (five miles or so from Asham Wood), and came across the two golden-saxifrage species growing side by side.

Chrysoplenium alternifolium (left) and oppositifolium (right). Great Elm, 15 March 2021.

Alternate leaves of Chrysoplenium alternifolium

Opposite leaves of Chrysoplenium oppositifolium

In Sweden the normal species is Chrysoplenium alternifolium (Sw: Gullpudra). C. oppositifolium was only discovered in 1995, in a Skåne beech wood. There is also an arctic species tetrandrum in the far north.

Chrysoplenium alternifolium. Great Elm, 15 March 2021.

Woodland leaf shapes on the Ides of March: Ramsons, Lords-and-ladies, Hart's-tongue Fern.


At 12:40 pm, Blogger Vincent said...

Here in the Chilterns, we saw no wild daffodils yesterday except on either side of a woodland path, at least 500 plants in small clumps over a sizeable stretch, some not yet budded, with occasional laminated signs asking us not to pick them as they were “in memory of my wife.” They will probably spread and outlive the bereaved husband. A beautiful alternative to the many gates & benches in these parts, donated in memory of departed walkers.

At 1:23 pm, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

That's a lovely living memorial for someone dear, and as you say the patch may well last centuries. Longer, even, than the individual trees that are also becoming popular memorials. It's rare for a cherry tree to live more than a century. Fifty years is about the norm.


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