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Saturday, December 19th 2015

Cowslips can only be found in one small area of the reserve.  Unfortunately they they do not grow near any Primroses so we have no False Oxlips, the hybrid between Primroses and Cowslips.

Cowslip

Although very mild for the time of year, we have not yet found any Primroses in flower.  Last year one was recorded in December.  Binoculars are needed to walk along Risedale Beck to spot anything pale yellow hiding in the undergrowth!  The seeds are sticky and ants are attracted to the food store of the seeds and carry them off, so dispersing them.

Primrose

Cottongrass is a very good plant to illustrate to children wind dispersal.  Children tend to assume wind dispersal actually means a strong wind, whereas in actual fact it requires only a very gentle breeze to move the light seeds.

Cottongrass

In the past Cottongrass heads were used for making candle wicks.  More disturbingly they were excellent for stuffing pillows and mattresses, a quick way, surely, to help the plant to extinction!  Can you imagine how many heads would be needed?

Cottongrass

Although a joy to see the light blue nodding heads of Harebells on the moor, it is a reminder that they are one of the last flowers of summer to open and be recorded on our flower walks.  They are linked with magic and folklore and given names like witches thimbles and fairy bells.  As the fruit develops the flower stalks become upright and small holes develop at the base of the fruit capsule, just large enough for the seeds to escape a few at a time, when the wind gently moves the stalk.  Something to look for next year.

Harebell


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