Friday, May 20, 2011

Germander Speedwell


When I started out as a student of botany  over 40 years ago there was one vital piece of equipment  that we were expected  to carry at all times – a hand lens. So when we found a plant, like the germander speedwell  Veronica chamaedrys in this  photograph - we could take a really close look at it even if it was an easy one to identify and we knew what it was....















......first scrutinising the floral characteristics, vital for identification, and then the rest of the plant, which often revealed...

........ unsuspected beauty. Germander speedwell has two straight lines of hairs running down opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are in opposite pairs and their orientation shifts through 90 degrees at alternate nodes along the stem - and so do the lines of hairs between successive nodes.

The other key element of the training was to draw identification features like this. These days, thanks to digital photography, it’s easy to record images of them but a simple annotated drawing is a far more effective way of learning the key differences. It involves careful observation, trying to work out the relationships between parts of the object – you really need to look closely at it and understand it. Which is why – I guess –  this simple ID character to germander speedwell has remained firmly stuck in my brain for four decades.

8 comments:

  1. One of my favourite flowers, Phil. The two close-up pictures are amazing.

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  2. One of my favourites too Emma - delighted to hear from you!

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  3. Superb shot of the hairy Germander Speedwell. They are just beginning to flower up here; I saw the first few when out cycling in the woods yesterday.

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  4. What a wonderful observation, I would not have thought to do that. I adore the shade of blue of the flowers.

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  5. Thanks for that I photographed one the same day and to be honest I never noticed
    http://teddytourteas.blogspot.com/2011/05/tag-bale-hill.html
    and I do have a hand lens after this I'll try using it more Danny

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  6. Hi Swanscot - these were in grass on the edge of woodland, in a sheltered sunny spot...

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  7. Hi Toffeeapple - almost the same blue as gentians, isn't it?

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  8. Hi QDanT, it's a whole new world once you start magnifying it a little...

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