Rosebay Willow Herb again and again Wednesday 25.08.2021

I have so many entries about this plant which graces the Glen with such majesty. Her sweeping stems uplifting to the sky and bending with the breeze just make me want to get airborne and sway with her. She is such a plant for our little valley, beginning low down and reaching for the sky, she swathes the hills with an energetic lightness, stroking, waving, sweeping fronds of purple/pink hills over the hills already densely covered in the deeping green of the bracken, with a colour that is called Rosebay, the sound of the name and vocal expression perfectly describes the spirit of the plant and makes me want to sing her name Rosebay Willow Herb.

I have been watching a video by the fabulous John Feehan in Offaly

Here are my notes from the video:

Rosebay Willow herb
John Feehan
https://youtu.be/iLq-0eDKBEA
There are 9 species of willow herb in Offaly

The Rosebay Willow Herb Demonstrates clearly the 4th dimension of Time In pollination strategy
Spike form of flower has a Racine formation where each flower on spike has its own stalk
Dichotomy – male and female parts mature at different times – difficult to self pollinate
On Rosebay Willow Herb the male parts mature first, rendering self pollination impossible in early stages of flowering
Demonstrated by Christian Sprengel German botanist C18

Petals x form and not the usual + so there is no obvious landing platform for pollinators
Visitors have to land on anthers which are held out like fingers on a hand
The stamens begin to dehist (shed pollen)
At this stage Stigma is at the back of the flower – and her 4 lobes are held closely together
As the flower matures the Stamens begin to shed their pollen, and the Stigma and style begin to protrude further forward, as they do this the valves of the Stigma begin to open
Eventually the Stigma takes the place formerly held by the Anthers and becomes most conspicuous landing platform for insects

Now the Stigma is at most receptive, and the 4 lobes curve backwards
Nectar production is at its maximum in this female phase of the plant
Nectar is secreted by the green fleshy area at the top of the ovary and is stored in a sort of Flask
The Flask is formed by the swollen bases of the filaments of the stamens As the Style begins to expand the Flask is ruptured

(The long flask is at the back of flower, it looks like stalk but same purple as the petals) You need a 10x hand lens to see it well
Only strong tongued insects can access nectar in the Flask
Bumble bees, honey bees, hover flies


Flowers fade but the Stigma remains receptive
If no visitor arrives to pollinate the flower the Stamens straighten up a bit and graze the Stigma with any remaining pollen, and this way, towards the end of its flower cycle, the Rosebay Willow Herb can self pollinate at this late stage
Most of the flowers on every spike will be pollinated
Each willow herb spike has 80,0000 tiny seeds, each with a little plume held in the ovary, making willow herb most efficient of air borne flowers


All parts are edible
Native N Americans and in Siberian
Liquor distilled from shoots mixed with fly agaric = effects of LSD and Gin
Honey from RBWH is excellent
Ivan’s Chai

NOTES
Anther = Male parts = filament + stamen
Carpel – Female parts = Ovary containing ovules + Style, pollen tube + Stigma
Ovary on willow herb looks like a stalk at the back of the flower and is is the same colour as petals

from The American Museum of Natural History

Peduncle: The stalk of a flower. 
Receptacle: The part of a flower stalk where the parts of the flower are attached. 
Sepal: The outer parts of the flower (often green and leaf-like) that enclose a developing bud. 
Petal: The parts of a flower that are often conspicuously colored. 
Stamen: The pollen producing part of a flower, usually with a slender filament supporting the anther. 
Anther: The part of the stamen where pollen is produced. 
Pistil: The ovule producing part of a flower. The ovary often supports a long style, topped by a stigma. The mature ovary is a fruit, and the mature ovule is a seed. 
Stigma: The part of the pistil where pollen germinates. 
Ovary: The enlarged basal portion of the pistil where ovules are produced.

https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/21824/rosebay_willowherb_or_fireweed.html

Published by @julforres

Julie Forrester, artist based in Cork City Ireland

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