• Mark

Spring Flowers at Woolton Farm

It’s Spring…………Hooray, at last something to be cheerful about!

Just some of the wild flowers to be found

I thought that as we’ve got a little more time on our hands, here’s an opportunity to have a closer look at some of the smaller things around us. Little things that we often just completely miss as we speed through our normal lives.

So diving straight in, here is the easily recognised Primrose.

But what do you actually know about this widespread and joyful harbinger of Spring.

For a start they’ve got quite an interesting sex life. Despite having both male and female reproductive organs (how about that!), they have a special body shape to prevent having sex with themselves!

Some Primroses have flowers with the female stigma sticking out into the centre of flower ready to receive pollen from their neighbours. These ones are called ‘pin eyed’. Others (called ‘thrum eyed’), have the male anthers sticking out into the centre of the flower ready to shed pollen onto any visiting insect in the hope that the insect will then buzz off and fertilise a separate plant. Clever uh?

Why do they bother (I hear you ask). Why don’t they just have sex with themselves? Well I’m afraid that’s a bigger subject than my pay grade, so I’ll let you investigate that one….sorry.

A ‘thrum-eyed’ Primrose showing the

male anthers in the centre of the flower

A 'pin-eyed' Primrose showing the female stigma

in the centre of the flower

Primrose (Primula vulgaris) just love sunny banks where it’s not too dry. At Woolton Farm they thrive on the steep banks of our ditches, especially on the sunny sides. They are pretty tough too and survive our annual ditch trimming and occasional scraping out.

The main pollinators are bumble bees (because most self respecting honey bees are still asleep) and small beetles.

As well as having ingenious sex gear, the Primrose has a clever strategy when it comes to getting its seeds distributed.

The seeds are tiny and at one end they have a fleshy coating (called an eliaosome) which is irresistible to ants. The ants carry the seeds to their houses and let their young feed on the eliaosome which is rich in proteins. Once they’ve had their fair share the ants then dispose of the seed on their rubbish dump, where it happily germinates and grows!

Now that’s clever.

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