Some of the splendid trees at Cardiff’s Cathays Cemetery displaying their glorious autumn colours. Better in person, obviously, but I hope you enjoy these magnificent trees as much as I did.
So, I thought I’d better grab some photos because this is a cemetery that is (mis)managed by the ‘neat and tidy’ brigade, those who place value in strimming everything to within an inch of its life rather than in the beauty of the wildflowers and the food they provide to insects.
There are two good things about the drenching and battering we’ve just suffered at the hands of the Spanish Storm Miguel: the first is that we really did need the rain, as the ground is already dry and cracked in places, and the second is that the strong winds may well be responsible for this glorious little lady I discovered at Cathays Cemetery today.
She (or, in fact, it may be a he) is a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), a butterfly which, according to the Butterfly Conservation website, ‘Each year … spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, recolonising mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland.’ And s/he’s still looking quite pristine, despite that long journey.
I’m currently taking part in the local Wildlife Trusts’ #7DaysofWildChristmas challenge. This ‘is a week-long challenge to do one wild thing a day from the 25th to the 31st of December’. For me a challenge like this is easy peasy ’cause I try to live my whole life as one long wild challenge but I like to support these initiatives to help to inspire other people to put more Nature and wildness in their lives. Believe me, in a world as crazy as ours currently is, you will feel better for it.
For today’s challenge I spent about four hours at Cardiff’s Cathays Cemetery, hunting for fungi to photograph (not forage) in both the old and new sections of the cemetery. I figured that, after all the rain we’ve had recently, I should be able to find one or two nice things. I wasn’t disappointed.
During a wander around Cardiff’s Cathays Cemetery last Friday, I found my first Earpick fungi (Auriscalpium vulgare).
Now, you might think Earpick is a very odd name for a fungus – you certainly wouldn’t want to use them to clean your ears out! – but it’s actually quite logical. Auriscalpium is a combination of the Latin words auris, meaning ear, and scalpare, the verb ‘to scratch’. The stem of the fungus certainly does look quite scratchy, as does the underside of the cap, with its mass of tiny cone-shaped rods. And it’s those rods that are the connection to the word ‘ear’ in the fungi’s name – have you ever seen a magnified photo of the sensory hair cells of the human inner ear?
Vulgare just means common, though this fungus is certainly not that – when I checked the biological database for Wales, I found only 10 previous recorded sightings.
These fungi were growing at the base of a conifer but I didn’t realise until I started reading up about them when I got home that the fungi nearly always grow on the rotting cones of pines and other conifers. I didn’t notice any cones but they must have been there, under the moss and grass. Fascinating!
I sure am glad I had a wander around my beautiful local cemetery yesterday, getting these photos, as today is cold and wet, with strong blustery winds, so I imagine most of the leaves will have been blown off their trees by tomorrow. I’ve blogged about the diversity of flora and fauna at this cemetery many times before but, in autumn, its huge variety of tree species becomes very apparent through the enormous range of shades to be seen in the dying leaves. Who would’ve thought there could be such beauty in death?