Sunday, 8 January 2012

The kingdoms of life in the county of Durham



Let’s start with a dry stone wall covered in lichens. I could give you the names of the various species or I could leave you to enjoy the beauty of their artistry (i.e. it was freezing cold and I forgot to even take a close look at them). Let’s call them a fungus for the purpose of this blog.

The wall was one of the highlights of a small tour today in the countryside near Durham, just south of Newcastle in northern England. (I'm posting these pictures and notes as I return to London by train on Saturday night from the British Phycological Society meeting in Newcastle.)

The main reason for the trip was to collect a red alga from the top of the River Wear, which runs through Durham. Unfortunately Lemanea was illusive. Still Wearhead is where it grows and you can be sure this member of the Rhodophyta (red algae) is in there somewhere.


Also photographed here were two Homo sapiens. Our local guide and freshwater algal expert from Durham University, Brian Whitton, and Marina Aboal from Spain, another freshwater algal loving human.


Then on to icy cold Cow Green Dam. Here we experienced some breathtaking landscape and weather in what is reputedly the most flowering-plant-species diverse area in England. But bugger all in flower at the moment.


We did see lots of a blackish, compact moss that gets a lot of attention in these parts, Gymnostomum.


And under the water, a whole new kingdom, the cyanobacteria, represented by Rivularia (pictured on a rock plucked from the icy cold stream)


OK, time for a vascular plant, although same kingdom as the moss. In a mining area with lots of heavy metal contamination you find this, Cochlearia. The genus is also called Scurvy Grass, although I gather the ‘grass’ James Cook used to prevent scurvy was another genus in the Brassicaceae family.


Let me end with some woody vascular plants without their leaves, set within some fine examples of man-made lichen substrate. Then a decaying human construct, Bernard Castle. And for a third and final picture, trees and castle together, with lichens, mosses, algae and other miscellaneous bits and pieces of life at a finer scale.




5 comments:

JonathanN said...

Interesting post, I am so glad that I have visited your site. Such a wonderful time reading this.

Tim Entwisle said...

Thanks for the feedback!

LucyN said...

Call them fungi indeed...

Your pics almost make me want to go algae hunting again, but I'm actually hunting your email address. Can you drop me a line, please? Ta.

Tim Entwisle said...

Hi Lucy, my email is t.entwisle@kew.org. Caught up with Brian Whitton and David John while in Newcastle...

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