Saturday, May 23, 2009

Double Dumplings
















Teesdale is famous for its flora, notably its spring gentians (see earlier post), and after the gentians have faded they are followed by a host of other rare or uncommon species that makes the dale a favourite destination for botanists. Just now the globe flowers Trollius europaeus are at their best, in bloom all along the Tees downstream from High Force (bottom picture). The flowers of these relatives of the buttercup, about the size of a golf ball, form a sphere of petals with a gap just large enough for flies to crawl in and pollinate the flowers. This was once a much more widespread species in wet pastures, until eliminated by the application of fertilisers that favoured grasses at the expense of flowering herbs. I’m told that locally they are traditionally known as ‘double dumplings’, although I have to confess that I’ve never heard anyone actually call them that. I first learned to identify wild flowers in the early 1960s by collecting the tea cards with illustrations by Charles Tunnicliffe, that used to be between the wrappers of Brooke Bond PG Tips tea. Globe flower was the only card I needed to complete the set of 50 British wild flowers and despite imploring every member of the family to drink as much tea as possible I never found it. It was 1975 before I actually got to see the real flower in Teesdale, and it's good to report that they are still thriving where I first saw them.

4 comments:

  1. Lovely scenery. Not much in the way of waterfalls in this flat part of Lincolnshire. Is it iron in the rocks turning the water brown in places on High Force or just earth in the turbulence I wonder.

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  2. Lovely flower, and a great story to go with it about the tea cards.

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  3. Hi John, I think the brown staining might be from the peat further upstream. Natural detergents in peat also produces a froth on the water surface.

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  4. Thanks Keith, I still have my tea card album collection somewhere in the loft.....

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