We need help with taking toads safely across the roads at Cottonstones near Mill Bank to prevent them being squashed by traffic. We are collecting between 50 and100 per evening at the moment, and it would be wonderful if you could lend a hand. All you need is warm clothing, high vis jacket, torch, bucket and a notebook to write down the numbers collected. We go out around 7pm for a few hours – but any time you can spare would be great. Please contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 07801 968404 if you require more info. Otherwise….see you there!
In the Conservation Land Management magazine there is an interesting article studying the effects of invasive Rhododendron on the ground flora. This study was done in the Atlantic oak woods of Scotland which also has Birch, Hazel and Rowan, as well as a rich ground flora.
Under Rhodo there is little that can survive the deep shade. When areas were cleared of this noxious shrub the original ground flora never reappeared, even after 30 years. However the Bryophytes did return and carpeted the ground with mosses, which produced a novel ground flora for which there is no comparison in natural ecosystems.
They found the popular idea that Rhodo ‘poisoned’ the soil was not supported by soil tests and is a bit of a myth. They found the only way to return a semblance of the original flora was to reintroduce seeds and scarify the moss covering.
I read elsewhere that we refer to it as Rhododendron ponticum but in reality this country has introduced multiple species from different parts of the world. These have hybridized to such an extent the resultant shrubs cannot be named with any certainty as it is a mish-mash. This has made it more invasive than R. ponticum.
Rhodo is a prolific spore distributor of the disease Phytophthora ramorum, an oomycete pathogen, which arrived in this country in about 2002. It has killed millions of Larch trees. It also affects Beech and the disease has been confirmed in the upper valley, where mature trees are dying and collapsing.
It is difficult to understand why there is not more effort to clear Rhododendron. It is easy to cut down and just needs a bit of effort for a year or two to strip off any regrowth and the stump is dead.
Most people have heard of Linnaeus as being the founding father of modern botanical names; all Latin binomials and nomenclature begin with his book Species Plantarum published in 1753. Binomials had been used by other botanists before him but he was the first to create a logical system.
But how many know Linnaeus was the first person in the world to produce cultured pearls?
At that time the only method for finding pearls was to use the time consuming effort of looking for natural ones. He believed that a technique for culturing pearls would be more effective and profitable for Sweden.
He experimented with the Painters Mussel, Unio pictorum, so called because the shells were good for the mixing of paints by artists. Linnaeus drilled a hole in the mussel’s shell and inserted a small granule of limestone between the mantle and the shell. The idea was this ‘irritant’ would stimulate the growth of pearls. These mussels were then returned to the riverbed for 6 years and they produced the world’s first spherical cultured pearls.
It wasn’t as profitable a business as he had hoped but even so he was ennobled for his efforts by the king of Sweden, taking the title of von Linné.
The pearls, patent, and Linnaeus’ secret were sold to a Swedish merchant but nothing came of it.
You then have to wait 150 years until the Englishman William Saville-Kent formed a syndicate in 1905 called “The Natural Pearl Shell Cultivation Company of London”. This was the first commercial venture and took place in the Torres Straight which runs between the tip of Australia and New Guinea.