Sea Spurge. In the Spring, they produce their remarkable receptacle-like flowers, which in close-up look to me like some sort of decoration for a miniature Christmas tree! The cup-shaped flower heads consist of a female flower – which is surrounded by male flowers (reduced to stamen) and four, crescent-shaped glands (known as involucre) which contain nectar, to attract pollinators. Ants are particularly attracted. A capsule-like fruit is produced, which contains just three large, resistant seeds, which reportedly can float in sea water and remain viable for several years.
I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.