Some of the Hawthorn bushes have a good crop of fruits (haws) but it doesn’t seem
to be a really good year for them. Hopefully there will be enough to provide food
for birds well into the autumn. The hips on the Dog Rose bushes and the red berries
of Black Bryony make spots of colour but we have seen hardly any sloes on the Common
this year, bad news for the makers of sloe gin! There are still a few flowers in
the grassland in Middle and East Commons; Red Clover and a scattering of yellow flowers
such as Autumn Hawkbit, Common Cat’s-ear and Meadow Buttercup. The one plant of
Hedgerow Crane’s-bill that we know of on the Common was still in flower at the start
of the month.
We have written before about the autumn abundance of galls on plants. These structures
are created by the plant’s reaction to an insect, often a minute gall-wasp, laying
its egg into the plant tissue. Various outgrowths are formed, sometimes in bizarre
shapes but each characteristic of the insect species causing it. If you turn over
some of the blotchy-looking leaves on an oak tree you will find the undersides decorated
with little reddish or yellowish buttons. These are various forms of Spangle Galls.
See if you can spot the one called Silky Button Gall. Each contains a minute insect
grub which feeds inside the gall. The galls either fall off or fall with the leaves
to lie on the ground through the winter before the adult gall-wasps emerge in the
spring. There is some concern that these insects are becoming scarcer along with
so many others so it is good to see some surviving on our Common.
See September’s Nature Notes
The Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - website: