Saturday, 28 June 2008

Flaxen beauty

The cliched phrase 'flaxen-haired beauty' is puzzling..... does the poor girl have thin green strands like the plant's stems, or a blue-rinse like its flowers?
There seems to be a larger than usual number of fields planted with flax or linseed this year, with at least three around Kingsdown. It's a lovely sight when the flowers are in bloom in the morning, although they close up by the afternoon.

Another flower that only opens for the morning is Goatsbeard, hence its local name of Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon. It's a relative of Salsify, which also has this habit. Our walk today wasn't too late in the day, but there were no open flowers to be seen, although we saw a couple of dozen of the spectacular seed-heads.

Toadflax - The scientific name Linaria means "resembling Linum [flax]" which the foliage of some species superficially resembles. The flowers certainly don't.

There were few Grove Snails to be seen in the dusty heat of the day, and this one was tightly sealed against drying out. Apparently these snails are used to illustrate the principles of evolution, because Thrushes eat the snails that are least well-camouflaged in their environment.
Grassland snails are lighter (like this one) while those in woodlands are darker.

A family of five young Swallows were lined up along the rope at Restharrow, waiting to be served insects by the parents.

Marsh Helleborine


Anonymous said...

Great post and photos . Having trouble with the last photo labelled White Helleborine . From this distance , I'd say definately not and point towards Marsh Heelleborine .

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks - duly amended!

Warren Baker said...

Interesting post steve, with some great photo's - as usual.
By the way ''Flaxen haired'' is a term used for hair the colour of the flax stems, after they had been used for making linen.

Mary said...

I guess I never looked at flax before. I always assumed it was yarn-like and used in weaving. I certainly wouldn't want hair like those stems, or a blue-rinse like the flowers. The swallows are very cute....nice family.

Photo-Africa said...

Great images all round but I really like the one of the Grove Snail on the branch. Very nice!!