Friday, 17 June 2016

#30DaysWild day 17: Bumbling about amongst the foxgloves

It was a bit of a damp, dreary day, but the tall spikes of pink foxglove bells in Cowleaze Wood definitely brightened it up.

The plants seemed particularly tall this year and many were towering over me. They grow in the dense shade of the trees as well as on the edges of the rides and clearings.

Peeping out of the trees across a field
They're such dramatic flowers, coming in a range of colours from deep pink/purple to pale pink, almost white. Their name derives from the shape of the flowers, which are said to resemble the fingers of a glove. In folklore, the bad fairies are said to have given the flowers to the foxes to put on their feet to soften their steps whilst hunting.

They're loved by bees and even on a day like today, each plant seemed to have at least one bee visiting it.

There were lots of bumbley bottoms poking out of the flowers.

They plants are perfectly adapted to attracting bees to pollinate them, with their tall stems and bright flowers. When the bee gets near it's led into the narrow tube of the flower by a series of spots on the lower lip that act like a landing strip leading the bee towards the nectar at the back of the flower. The bee crawls into the narrow part of the flower and rubs against the pollen with it's back, pollinating subsequent flowers it visits.

Smaller insects that are attracted to the nectar and try to crawl into the flower are put off by a series of small hairs on the lower lip of the flower. They'd be no use to the flower, as they'd be too small to rub against the pollen on the top of the flower tube.

Some of the bees were looking decidedly fed up with the weather and were sitting around on the foxglove leaves.

I think we're all hoping for a bit of sunshine, as the foxgloves look even more stunning then, but they were still a wonderful sight and another 'wonder' of our woods.

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