Orobanche minor on Whiteknights campus

Orobanche minor growing on Brachyglottis monroi

Orobanche minor growing on Brachyglottis monroi

Parasitic plants, particularly ones with large and colouful flowers, are always a cause of curiosity from the casual observer, and are generally uncommon enough to exite field botanists. For many years there were numerous flower spikes of Orobanche minor on the Brachyglottis ‘Sunshine’ plants in the Chemistry Department car park on Whiteknights campus.  However the Brachyglottis plants became moribund and were removed so I thought we had lost the Orobanche from the area.  Continue reading

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Flying Saucer Hunt

Last July we added White-letter hairstreak to the campus species list. It’s impossible to say whether it was a stray individual (revisiting my photograph it was a pretty beaten up specimen!) or part of a breeding colony on campus. It can persist in quite small colonies, often centred around a single tree as for the Sheffield colony mentioned in this recent Guardian article. The larvae usually start out feeding on flower buds, so white-letter hairstreak prefers more mature and therefore flowering elms. However, it has been recorded subsisting solely on younger growth.

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2015 powdery mildew species review

Alist of all powdery mildew species I have found in 2015 is now available on the Whiteknights biodiversity blog.

Please take a look.

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Enhancement Week

School of Biological Sciences students and staff alike enjoyed a veritable wildlife bonanza during week 6 ‘enhancement week’, with a range of sessions including bird ringing and moth trapping that served to demonstrate you don’t have to go far for a wildlife experience when you live and work on Whiteknights Campus.

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UK Fungus Day @UniofReading notes 3



I’m still working through numerous photos and trying to edit them – several of today’s blog batch are those our MSc Plant Diversity (#MScPlDiv) students tried to identify the next day.  Note that not all the names scribbled on the paper towel are correct. All of those look a bit wizened however there are also other fungi brought to the lab on Sunday and photographed on the day.  Thanks to Mike Harrison for correcting may IDs and supplying others. Continue reading

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UK Fungus Day @UniofReading notes 2


Lepista flaccida – Tawny Funnel

Here is the second gallery of fungal finds from our UK fungus day activities.  A range of both small and crust-like fungi through to large boletes.  There are part of the morning collections and a few of the afternoon foray finds. Continue reading

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UK Fungus Day @UniofReading notes no. 1

Morning fungus foray in action

Morning fungus foray in action (Photo by Rupert Wilson)

UK Fungus Day was marked by excellent weather for seeing and collecting fungi.  The group walked through the Wilderness on the morning foray and then in to central campus for the afternoon foray. The group consisted of Thames Valley Fungi Group members, several University alumni and a group of MSc Plant Diversity students as well as School of Biological Sciences staff.

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Moth Night Catch

It was a cool, clear night, and 8am found the Harris Garden wreathed in mist and drenched with dew. Would any moths have found their way into our light traps in these conditions?

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Moth Night (Morning) update

Further to Alastair’s post, whilst it is probably too late to put on an official event I will have two light traps running in the Harris Garden overnight. All welcome to join me from 8am tomorrow to open them and see what we catch.

This would also be a good moment to point out that Reading is competing in a ‘University Moth Challenge’, organised and supported by A Focus On Nature and Butterfly Conservation. Similar to the bird challenge (in which we did very well) there are a number of categories, including number of species and individuals recorded and number of participants. The competition is very much aimed at students, so we’re looking for as many as are interested to get involved.

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Moth Nights 10-12 September – will you be recording?

Elephant Hawk-moth

Elephant Hawk-moth

Over the next two nights the UK will be aflutter with moth enthusiasts looking to see what is out and about.  UK Moth Night aims to celebrate British moth recording activity and highlight this to the public.  News coverage has been good.  On Today this morning I heard the advice to mix beer, treacle and sugar but there seem to be almost as many recipes as there are moth spotters!  To take part in the event check the Moth Night Taking Part page. Continue reading

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