Sunday, 9 April 2017

Blackthorn spring herald

BLACKTHORN is not perhaps the most glamorous of plants, but is carries a special place in many peoples' hearts as it chooses the earliest time of the year to open its thousands of small white flowers - much appreciated by insects.  In many places its currently in full bloom, although in warmer spots bushes may have already gone over.  Of course later in the year its black grape-like fruits have a special place in many a gin drinker's heart too!

This prickly character can quickly invade abandoned grasslands, throwing up spiky, unforgiving shoots, but with active grazing it is usually held in check.

On Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's West Yatton Down nature reserve (not a site they own but one with an agreement, and also a SSSI) the blackthorns in the valley are many, old and gnarly.  Several are so heavily encrusted with foliose lichen that the flowers play second fiddle.

The frequent nibbling by stock has made for thick twisted branches and a tunnel of white blossom.  Green hair-streak likes this spot, but none were seen today.

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