8th February 2021 – Fiery breath of a tiny dragon

I’d have felt adrift from the botany twitterverse today if I hadn’t posted a picture of a female hazel flower. I was particularly pleased with this one which growing directly over a couple of male catkins; the red styles looking like the fiery breath of a tiny dragon.

What passes for quite a lot of snow in London has made botanizing feel less attractive recently. So when the sun came out last Friday I dropped everything and spent a happy morning poked around the pavements and green patches between our house and the park. I challenged myself to find some street weeds which hadn’t yet flowered to practice identification, and pinned these ones down to Wavy Bittercress, Buck’s-horn Plantain, Round-leaved Cranesbill and Garlic Mustard (although that one was cheating as it was in flower).

There were three grasses I found with flower spikes too: Annual Meadowgrass and Wall Barley and Cocksfoot (the last two shown here). It’s fair to say they were a rather sickly bunch of specimens compared to the vibrant greens we’re used to.

The catkins of an alder tree were a nice contrast with the yellow hazel catkins, with surprising flashes of red close-up. I see an interesting photo on social media of red drips coming from an alder catkin. The botany twitterverse said this was tannins bleeding out.

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