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Today's walkitcornwall quote

  "How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean." — Arthur C. Clarke

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I did it again this year. Booked another walking week with Paul after the nice walking week I had last year. Might do it again next year.

- Lenie B, Switzerland


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Walking blog: The philosophy of walking

Whose "sori" now?

sori on fern feb 2010
(Say with a Clouseau accent until you laugh) “Sorry, I’m on the fern”. Clutch one of the 53 species in Britain to your ear as you walk down a damp, enclosed sunken lane or a path in a wood. Yup, pteridophytes can be fun, even if it has taken them 400 million years to be included in a one-liner. Oh and please don’t pick a fresh one, that’s the countryside code.
Now take a closer look at the photo and next time you are down in the woods, turn the fronds over and look for the dots. These are sori or thousands of spore capsules, which like those in mushrooms, get carried away by the wind and can land kilometres away. Now they look quite primitive (always in movies about dinosaurs) and don’t have any flowers, but therein lies the tale that looks are deceiving. Firstly they predate flowering plants by 250 million years, so they’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to reproductive prowess. Secondly these spores can survive decades before they produce the green tissue that has the male and female organs on them. Just add water and the fertilisation takes place and Clouseau’s your uncle, a new fern.
These photos were taken near Porth Saxon on the Helford River on the path up to Carwinion Gardens at Mawnan Smith. Here I saw my first flowering Primroses of the year. Snowdrops are in full bloom, Alexanders are on their breakneck growth spurt and Lesser Celandine are making their presence felt. Winter heliotrope’s flowering and smelling of vanilla (more in another blog). 
So to the wonderful Primrose (Primula vulgaris) which heralds the coming of spring, hence the “Prima Rosa” or first Rose. Spring alludes to young love and Shakespeare composed this wonderful marriage of both in a Midsummers Night Dream when he said:-

    “And in the wood, where often you and I

    Upon faint primrose beds, were wont to lie

    Emptying our bosoms of our counsel sweet”

Or to my layman’s understanding “if you give us a kiss, I’ll tell you my inner secrets, now be careful you’re crushing those pretty yellow flowers”

Earliest primroses of the year?

Now a certain conundrum was revealed to me last year. It’s fairly cold when the primroses come out. So how come there are so many of them flowering with an absence of the usual suspects of flying insects to help pollination? Well it’s down to their sticky seeds and their finger lickin’ aroma and coating. Ants love ‘em. They take them off to all areas off main stage and voila, distribution is sorted. That’s half the story. It’s always worthwhile taking a hand lens with you. I take a 10x and a 20x, the former draws you in and the second blows your mind with the detail. When you see some primroses have a close look in the middle of the flower, as there are two types of primrose. Some will have a protruding stigma with anthers lower down and others the other way round with protruding anthers. Pollen must travel from one to the other before the sticky seed is produced.

Although it is flowering as early as February and heralds the coming of Spring it is not until April 19th that we celebrate Primrose Day, all because it was Prime minister Disraeli’s favourite flower and Queen Victoria sent two wreaths of them on his death (on that date 1881) as a token of their friendship.

Lots of plant biographies at http://www.plantlives.com/ . Sue Eland has set up this amazing site.