Knot bad for bees!

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a fast growing, invasive perennial with a terrible reputation for spreading and excluding other native plants. Its roots are also capable of breaking through concrete and other man-made materials (1). But it’s not all bad! It looks quite nice when it is flower, right now in September, and it’s good…

Orchids come and go!

Orchids flower over quite a long period, with the dates of the flowering season varying somewhat with latitude. In Scarborough, I spotted (sic) my first Common spotted orchid – in the meadows of Scarborough Castle – on the 9th June this year (2016). See below. There must be quite a lot of individual variation between…

Do bumblebees know when ants are in?

I took a few photos of a large Bombus terrestris bumblebee (queen I think) visiting foxglove flowers in St. James Park, London on a fine day last week. When I looked closely at the images I noticed a few ants within individual foxglove flowers. Lasius niger worker ants – and other species presumably – often…

Beetle-like bug

This beautiful insect looks like a beetle, but it is in fact a bug – a true bug as entomologists call hemipterans. It is a member of the family Scutelleridae and is commonly called a jewel bug or a metallic shield bug. The Lychee Shield Bug or Green Jewel Bug, Chrysocoris stolli, is widely distributed throughout south Asia and South East…

Bumbler bees and foxgloves

Sometimes when you take a photograph you only notice something unusual about it when you come to examine the image closely on the computer. I took this image of a foxglove flower – something about the inside of the flower caught my attention – but it was only when I looked closely at the image…

A weird and wonderful plant

This very strange-looking flower originates from South Asia, where it occurs from Bhutan to Bangladesh. There are more than 500 species in the genus Clerodendrum L. (Family: Lamiaceae), widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions. Many of these small trees and shrubs are used in traditional medicine and are known to be active against ‘a wide…

Rose of the jungle

I came across this amazing flower – rose of Venezuela, or rose of the jungle – in Bogor Botanical Gardens, Java, Indonesia. It originates from South America, where for millions of years it existed as  understorey plant of Amazonian rain forests (endemic to Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela and Colombia). Once discovered by Man, it has…

Om Mani Padme Hum – the sacred lotus

ओं मणिपद्मे हूं Om Mani Padme Hum (‘the gem of truth lies in the lotus’). The lotus is an extraordinary plant; beautiful and mysterious. Seeds of this plant were still viable and successfully germinated, after lying dormant for over a thousand years (1,288 ± 271-yr-old) in an ancient lake bed at Pulantien, in Liaoning Province, China (1).…