Category Archives: Plants

Plants flowering early affect pollinators

Article in the Conversation web site:-
“Plants are flowering about a month earlier in the UK due to climate change. That’s according scientists at the University of Cambridge, who recently analysed the first flowering dates of 406 species and found a link to warmer temperatures in spring….

The problem is that climate change may increase the chance of plants and pollinators becoming out of sync, with plants flowering too early in the year for the insects that pollinate them….

In evolutionary biology, this is known as a “temporal mismatch”. Insects that are used to a feasting on April-flowering plants may find themselves arriving a month late if warmer temperatures mean that the plants now flower in March…

If earlier flowering reduces pollination, that would in turn reduce reproductive success and crop yields. Pollinators themselves could also be at risk, since earlier flowering could lead to gaps in resources like pollen and nectar leaving bees to go hungry… “

https://theconversation.com/plants-are-flowering-a-month-earlier-heres-what-it-could-mean-for-pollinating-insects-176324?

First pollinator plant logo scheme backed by DNA-barcoding

“The National Botanic Garden of Wales launches first pollinator plant logo scheme in the UK to be backed by DNA-barcoding science.

It is being rolled out to growers & nurseries so shoppers are guaranteed eligible plants are loved by bees and other pollinating insects, don’t contain synthetic insecticides and are grown in peat-free compost.

It aims to prevent pollinator decline and benefit other wildlife such as hedgehogs, sparrows and frogs …”

Read more …

https://botanicgarden.wales/press/science-fact-fuels-campaign-to-stamp-out-pollinator-friendly-fiction/


 

Bees force plants to flower early

New Scientist report:-   “Hungry bumblebees can coax plants into flowering and making pollen up to a month earlier than usual by punching holes in their leaves.

Bees normally come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the pollen of newly blooming flowers. However, they sometimes emerge too early and find that plants are still flowerless and devoid of pollen, which means the bees starve.

Fortunately, bumblebees have a trick up their sleeves for when this happens. Consuelo De Moraes at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and her colleagues discovered that worker bumblebees can make plants flower earlier than normal by using their mouthparts to pierce small holes in leaves.”

Read more:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2244009-bees-force-plants-to-flower-early-by-cutting-holes-in-their-leaves/

Plant nurseries are in trouble – how to help

Wildlife Gardening Forum have posted the following message on their facebook page:-

Nurseries supplying garden plants are in trouble due to shopping restrictions on our daily life, and that they may have have to dispose of their spring stock. At this time, as long as these nurseries are abiding by Public Health England rules, then it’s good to support them. Many have lost their key routes to market via garden centres and UK horticulture is starting to suffer. We want these places to be there for our pollinators when this has ended!

We’re therefore starting this thread for anyone to share details of the who is doing what and where, ie still operational and available to order from. Please keep coming back to this post and update as the situation progresses, and if you are a nursery owner, please feel free to add a link to your nursery here. To find this post, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/wildlife.gardening.forum/permalink/1142801456067480/

The State of Nature in Wales

The State of Nature, a summary for Wales:-

“Changing agricultural management has had the biggest single impact upon nature in recent decades.

Our measure of species’ distribution, covering a broad range of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, has declined since 1970, with more species decreasing than increasing. The rate of this change in nature appears to be increasing: our statistics indicate that over the last decade nearly half of the species for which we have data have shown strong changes in distribution.  8% of species in Wales are threatened with extinction.”

https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-Wales-summary.pdf

https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/populations-of-uks-most-important-wildlife-have-plummeted-since-1970

Full report:-
https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

Full report summary:-
The State of Nature Report 2019-Summary

Verges are plantlife rich

The charity Plantlife says “An astonishing number of wild plants grow on our road verges, some of which are threatened or near threatened.  Proper management of verges is critical if these species are to avoid extinction. Includes a list of known plants found on a road verge in the UK.”

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/publications/road-verges-last-refuge-for-some-of-our-rarest-wild-plants.

“Of the 1,596 species we looked at 724 or 45.3% grow on verge habitats.  If we add in hedgerow and ditch habitats, the total rises to 809 species or over 50.7% of our flora.”

Roadside verges – campaign progress

A BBC report:- “A long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials.

Several have taken the message on board. An eight-mile “river of flowers” alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

So are we likely to see more from the “meadow movement” in the future?”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48772448?SThisFB&fbclid=IwAR2LDmFN9VeCz2lcc5g6OnWnbeF7jLCaIjfLvZu95GBNOsU5_1JGPpUEPoM

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/blog/whats-in-store-for-the-road-verge-campaign-in-2019

 

Change to Monmouthshire’s mowing practices

“As spring approaches, Monmouthshire’s grounds maintenance service will work to support the environment and provide a boost for wildlife by modifying mowing practices. Teams will mark open spaces with blue or white topped stakes to highlight areas likely to be suitable habitats which have been identified by council staff, residents or through the council’s partnerships with local groups. These include Bee Friendly Monmouthshire, Bees for Development and Gwent Wildlife Trust as part of the Nature Isn’t Neat project funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Plan for Wales …”

https://www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/2019/03/councils-grounds-teams-provide-boost-for-environment-with-mowing-change/?fbclid=IwAR1HfthE0OVjdmjisTWNMZgrgUAvU_eHJhgheRNZkb7sw2yU9Gu-DF1Ri_A

National Botanic Garden of Wales research has revealed which plants bees choose for their pollen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-39003201

Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.

Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.

Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.

Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.

Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.

“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.

“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”

The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.

Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.

The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.

Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.

Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.


 

No neonicotinoids on 9/10 garden centre plants

Nine of the top 10 leading garden retailers and garden centres don’t want the flowering plants they sell to be grown with bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides and have told suppliers not to use them, a Friends of the Earth survey  reveals.

However, one of the biggest garden retailers – Homebase – has yet to commit to working with suppliers to end the use of restricted neonicotinoids, despite being contacted by thousands of people via a Friends of the Earth online action ….

https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/homebase-urged-act-after-most-top-garden-retailers-say-no-bee-harming