Sunday, 30 August 2015

Beautifully beige

The rain meant it definitely wasn't a butterfly sort of day today, but that gave us a chance to look at a couple of the more common things that we might otherwise have walked straight past.

The first was the carline thistle, a straw coloured thistle that at first glance looks like the flowers have gone over. In fact this is what they look like when they're in full flower, between July and September. It's found fairly commonly on dry, chalk grassland and we certainly see it regularly when we're out walking.

Look closely and they are really quite pretty with tiny purple petals. The pale papery bracts around the outside make the flowers look like stars. When the flowers go over the heads remain for a long time and you can often still see them the next spring.

The second thing we noticed was a patch of turkeytail growing all around on a tree stump.

It's a common fungus that grows all year and is very colourful, with overlapping rings of brown, black, blue, purple, grey and rust with a white outer edge. It grows on deadwood, usually beech or oak and is inedible, although it's not poisonous, just too tough.

Both things may at first glance appear beige, but they really are quite beautiful and there is so much more to them when you take a good look.

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