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Bluebells, Bootlace Fungus, Bugle,
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Bluebells carpet a woodland floor.
Bluebells are a popular sight during a few brief weeks of spring, when they carpet the
woodland floor with a sea of blue fragrant flowers. They have to flower and produce
seed quickly before the emerging canopy of tree
leaves reduces the light levels on the floor of the woodland. They are able to grow
using food stored in a bulb underground.
Ecological sampling of Bluebells
Bluebells are a familiar feature in the woodlands
of western Britain. The bell shaped blue flowers with creamy white anthers hang
from the top of a hairless, leafless, fleshy stem. The long, narrow leaves lie close
to the ground. Pollinated by insects, bluebells in profusion are an indicator of
Bluebell Image Gallery
Bootlace fungi can sometimes be seen
on rotting wood. All fungi consist of hyphae, which are microscopically
thin, branching, colourless threads growing together in a large web called the
mycelium. Some fungi, such as the Bootlace or Honey Fungus, which is
a parasite of woodland trees, have hyphae collected together into long cables, called rhizomorphs.
Because there are so many hyphae packed together, they are easily seen, forming black 'bootlaces'.
These can spread through a woodland infecting neighboring trees.
Bugle flowering in a damp meadow. A
member of the mint family, Bugle is a short, upright perennial with small mauve flowers
that spreads by throwing out rooting runners. It can be seen flowering from April to
July in damp meadows and woodland clearings. It can be distinguished from other
mints by the bronze tinge to its upper leaves. Its seeds are dispersed by ants.
It has long been thought to have medicinal value, and in the past has been used to
heal wounds and internal bleeding, cleanse the liver, and as a mild laxative.
A Buzzard, showing its sharp hooked bill,
characteristic of predatory birds. Majestically soaring on the thermals
above the Westcountry landscape, buzzards are now a common sight. They have a wingspan of
115-130cm and are the largest of the birds of prey commonly seen in the south west of
England. Their varied diet consists of small mammals such a rabbits and invertebrates like
earth worms. They also eat carrion.
More on Buzzards
A Canopy of leaved branches at the tops of trees
in mature woodland. Canopy usually forms in mature woodlands when the crowns
(tops) of each tree spread out to form a continuous layer. This happens as a result
of each tree maximising its own ability to capture sunlight for making its food.
When in full leaf, this layer effectively absorbs much of the sunlight falling on it, and
everything below it is in full or dappled shade. This has a direct effect on all the
plants and associated wildlife living underneath. Only plants that can tolerate
shade are able to grow successfully. The canopy also has an effect on the moisture
levels and the temperature below it.
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List of images in this gallery
All images copyright Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust