The generosity of IVY (Hedera helix)

Have you noticed the bee and wasp activity on the late flowering Ivy? I enjoy watching this generous plant feed a variety of insects who feed on it’s calorific rich nectar and pollen, fattening themselves up before they hibernate for winter. Fugivourous (fruit feeding) birds such as song thrush, starlings, fieldfares, wood pigeons etc. also rely on the berries of the Ivy in winter when other food sources are scarce.

According to the RSPB the berry of Ivy contains, weight for weight, as many calories as a Mars Bar! (though the Berries are can be poisonous to humans so don’t try this at home).

For more info these are some great articles on IVY………

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) floral buds

On my daily walks just now I am noticing all the buds on the trees unfolding to reveal their botanical delights inside.

This short vlog highlights the fact that there are no boundaries to botany! The fields of wheat or barley, the wild bluebells or primroses, the pyjama bottoms I wear made from a Gossypium (cotton) species, to broccoli and cabbages in our kitchens, not to mention what is in my medicine cupboard…



Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

The intoxicating coconut smell of Gorse is on it’s way in the north of Scotland! However, one of the things I like most about this plant is it’s clever way of passing it’s pollen from one flower to the other. I explain more in the video below.


Yew Trees and Pollen

Spring has sprung… well the Yew tree thinks so anyway. As one of our three native conifers, this tree doesn’t produce flowers as such, but instead something called strobili (or male cones). At the moment, in the north of Scotland, the male strobili of the Yew are bursting out of their bud scales and producing pollen. Allergy sufferers be aware, the OPALS allergy scale rate the pollen from a Yew Tree at 10 out of 10. Not surprising since this potent and tree, the oldest in Europe, gives us the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel. Local friends if you are visiting Brodie Castle, there have some wonderful Yew trees, so check out the male strobili that are flowering there just now.
More on the Yew, here:
#AncientTrees #Yew #MedicinesFromPlants #Pollen #Conifers #Chemotherapy #Allergies #SacredTrees

Holly: Ilex aquifolium

At this time of year, the botanical rituals are abound with Mistletoe hanging from our ceilings, wreaths on our doors,  Poinsettias on our tables and Holly decorating our halls, not to mention all the botanical foods we eat in celebration or that fill our glasses.

In homage, and appreciation of one of these plants, here is a short video on Holly: Ilex aquifolium.

Big thanks to Dr Jochen Langbein at Langbein Wildlife for sharing his wonderful pictures of deer eating Holly for this Vlog

Wishing everyone a wonderful festive season, thank you for following my blog in 2019 and I look forward to more botanising with you all again in 2020 🙂

Ivy (Hedera helix) – The Mars Bar for birds

In early winter I love to see Ivy (Hedera helix) flowering so late in the year, giving our invertibrates a final feed before deep winter sets in.

Then come late winter, early spring, this plant, which keeps on giving, produces seeds for our birds which, according to the RSPB contain as many calories, weight for weight, as a Mars Bar. Something you would very much want if you were a bird at this time of year when food is pretty scarce.