Saturday, 9 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'H'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'H' - Hawthorn, Horse Chestnut

My flowers for 'H' appear on bushes and trees.

The hawthorn is one which appears early and covers hedges in white blossom.

Hawthorn blossom
It is often confused with the blackthorn I wrote about under 'B', but the hawthorn flower appears with the leaves; the blackthorn flowers before the leaves appear.

Hawthorn, also known as May blossom
        "There stands the flowering May-Thorn tree!"

Later in the year the tree/bushes have a small red fruit loved by birds like thrushes, finches and tits.

Haws, the hawthorn fruit
The common hawthorn has a single stone (seed) in each haw. Birds help the bush spread by distributing the stone in their droppings.

One of Britain's trees is a majestic sight bedecked with large white flowers.

Horse chestnut tree in flower

And of course all of us are familiar with the game of conkers.

Conkers on the horse chestnut
Of course you have to get the conkers out of their prickly case before they can be pierced and loaded on a string.

In recent years autumn seems to come early for the tree - in June/July before the conkers are ready the tree's green leaves turn brown.

Characteristic 'browning' of the leaves

Thanks to the activity of the - 

Horse-chestnut leaf miner moth
It's the larvae of the moth that mines between the leaves.

First seen in 2002 in London, this disease which is not detrimental to the tree has spread throughout the country.

Even blue tits cannot eat all the larvae in the leaves which give the tree a distinctly jaded look.

What a shame it would be if it does not remind us of Longfellow's - 

         "Under a spreading chestnut tree
          The village smithy stands."

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge - The Flowering May-Thorn Tree
  • Horse-chestnut leaf miner moth - Cameria ohridella - 22 July 2005, by Soebe, Northern Germany - CC BY-SA 3.0 
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Village Blacksmith


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - wonderful memories here ... love Horse Chestnuts ... let's hope our trees can survive the pests around ... cheers Hilary

Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

I love Wildflowers and can't wait to see the rest of yours. Our post for the letter H is the Hummingbird Cottage (where you will find lots of flowers) and Heartworms.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read about the moth and lovely photos. I replied to your comment on my blog with "Thanks for visiting back,Bob. I have read all you A to Z posts from A to G and will pop across and look at your Hawthorn post. The berries in my photo were formed from the profusion of blossom in the earlier photo. Sue"

I am following your blog. Coincidentally this morning I took two photos of a nearby horse chestunt tree, which has the leaves opening and revealing the buds of the candles.

@suesconsideredt from Sue’s Trifles
and Sue’s words and pictures

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

larvae aren't very nice :(

Jo said...

You made me think of "cast not a clout til May is out". Beautiful flowers. I hope the horse chestnut survives the pest.

Anonymous said...

All these beautiful pictures have me hoping for spring. *sigh*
Interesting difference between the blackthorn and hawthorn flowers. :)

Karen S. said...

The Horse Chestnut always brings me right back to my childhood in Michigan. Quite interesting information on that moth too. Excellent photos too.

Karen S. said...

Wow, not sure if my comment went through, so here it is again. The Horse Chestnut always brings me back to my childhood in Michigan. Very interesting information on that moth too. Excellent photos too.