Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer in the City





We did a bit of botanising more or less in the centre of Newcastle today. Tucked away in little pockets of waste ground there are all sorts of rural wild flowers growing in unlikely urban habitats. Are they accidental arrivals, originating from seeds brought in by birds, traffic and people, or are they remnants of a past flora that existed when this sprawling city was still green fields? A bit of both, I would guess. The lady’s bedstraw (top photo), flowering in the shelter of a billboard on the road to Byker, belongs in a hay meadow rather than in a tangle of overgrown shrubs and litter. The tansy (second photo), with yellow button flowers and aromatic foliage, was flourishing in a gap between a wall and a tarmac-covered car park, a long way from the hedgerows and riverbanks that are more familiar natural habitats. Yellow toadflax (third photo), established in the crevice between a factory wall and the pavement is a refugee from grassy places and hedgebanks, but seems to be thriving in the urban jungle. Rose-bay willow herb (fourth photo from top) colonises waste ground everywhere via its wind-blown seeds but how does wild parsnip, in the foreground of this photograph, get around the city and appear as a regular coloniser of disturbed soils? Wherever it grows, its flowering shoots become infested with aphids, attracting ladybirds (bottom picture). It’s tough on the city streets, but nature is tougher..........

4 comments:

  1. It always amazes me how some wild plants manage to seemingly thrive in the most unlikely of places; but I'm glad they do.
    Some of our towns and streets really need a helping hand from nature.

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  2. Hope you don't mind me dropping by, as an engineer and mathematician who now spends his time crawling around in fields and bogs I need sites like yours for education. Lack of knowledge always diminishes ones experiences. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Hi Adrian,thanks for visiting. I really admire your landscape photography.

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  4. I'm amazed too, Keith, at the unlikely plants that sometimes turn up in the heart of cities.

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