Sunday 15 November 2015

Summer Fruit

Perhaps, more accurately, this post should be titled summer seeds.  We generally associate fruit with autumn, but a lot of plants and some trees produce fruit throughout the year.  

Willow seed on Hall's Pond
Hall's Pond - 16 June 2015

One of the very earliest fruits in Milton Country Park is willow seed which covers the surfaces of the pits with white down.  As the photograph above shows, Hall's Pond was completely covered in early June.

Lords and Ladies in undergrowth
Centre of Park - 28 July 2015

In early spring, cuckoo pint plants are conspicuous on the bare earth beneath the trees in the park.  Although most of these plants go on to flower, the spikes of bright red berries are very hard to find, partly because of the heavy growth of nettles and brambles that has grown up during the summer.   Furthermore, on most of the spikes I did find half of the berries had been eaten. 

The naming of this plant interests me as there seems no obvious connection either between cuckoos and lords and ladies or between either name and the plant.  The connection is that both terms refer to the spadix.  Cuckoo pint is derived from the resemblance of the spadix to a penis: pint is short for pintle which means penis, and cuckoo means lively.  Lords and ladies is a name first used by children based on the fact that the spadix can be either purple or white.  Be careful of this plant: Cambridgeshire folk lore had it, that to bring the plant indoors would bring TB into the house.

The almost complete specimen shown above was found on the edge of the woods between Hall's Pond and Todd's Pit.

Thistle down
Fen Road Exit - 6 August 2015

By August, many of the plants in the park are seeding profusely.  In the meadow by the path to the Fen Road exit the thistle down is at least as conspicuous as the thistle flowers it replaced.  This is a different part of the same meadow that I featured in my post Meadow Flowers .

Three poppy seed heads
Access Road - 10 August 2015

These are the seed heads of the poppies which I found growing beside the access road which runs behind the toilets and which I featured in an earlier post Summer Flowers.

Mass of ragwort bearing seedheads and flowers
Play Area - 23 August 2015

Another plant producing a profusion of seeds at this time of year is the ragwort. These plants were photographed on the bank overlooking the play area.

Hemlock plant with seed heads
Remembrance Meadow - 23 August 2015

Finally, I am finishing with a classic view of an umbellifer in seed - in this case hemlock.  

Books and Blogs


My information on the origins of plant names is taken mainly from 'On the Popular Names of British Plants' by R C A Prior, which is freely available on the internet in pdf format.

Next: Intimate Landscapes 2

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