Flowers before foliage in spring

Over the last week my permitted outdoor exercise with some variations has been based on a walk from Wrenthorpe via the nearby Wakefield Junction 41 Industrial Estate, Lawns Lane, Brandy Carr Road and along Troughwell Lane back home.  The industrial estate is busy with large haulage vehicles and not an obvious place to see wildlife, but it has been extensively landscaped.  In amongst the mixture of plants there are a number of native tree and shrub species.  In particular, some maturing wild cherry trees sometimes known as gean look very spectacular at the moment with masses of  white flowers. Together with its good looks it is a superb tree for wildlife, the flowers are an early source of nectar and pollen for bees and the cherries are eaten by many birds in the autumn.

In between the many warehouses there are small areas of rough and disturbed land.  These habitats  can sometimes be hostile places for plant growth, but not for coltsfoot.  This is one of our first plants to flower in spring.  Producing a mass of yellow blooms early in the year may help to attract insects before they are obscured by their large leaves, which are silver-white on the undersides.  During spring coltsfoot is one of several species which flower before their leaves unfold.  Some are much less noticeable and, therefore, more easily missed on my walks like the flowers of the common ash tree.  Ash trees are wind pollinated and perhaps it may help their pollen to travel further if their flowers are not obscured by the leaves.  See photo.  Also, at this time of year there is still the opportunity to spot birds singing high in the trees before they too are obscured by their leaves. See photo of song thrush taken near Lawns Lane.

colt'f-foot

colt’f-foot

common ash flowers

common ash

song thrush Wakefield wildlife

song thrush