Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vegetal life in the forest before spring;Pre-springs plants



  In deciduous forests, as in the beech forest of Irati, there is a brief period of light from about March to May, when the sun is high enough to allow rapid growth of plants, before sprout the leaves of the beeches.

        Beech forest in Irati in the beginning of spring bloom

    To take advantage of this light, the plants must to have a fully developed set of leaves in March. Where are the leaves? More or less formed within the bulb along with stored food.
Walking through the beech forest in late winter and spring,we can find blue carpets,white,yellow ...
is the awakening of prevernales plants.

True oxlip (Primula elatior)


Common Woodsorrel(Oxalis acetosella)

Cowslip (Primula veris)

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Windflower (Anemone nemorosa)

Squill  (Scilla lilio-hyacinthus)

    Those that grow from bulbs. But what are the bulbs? Most people think that they are roots, but when we took him out of the ground, we find other roots that emerge from the bulb. In essence, they are leaf bases (leaves) swollen, full of food reserves, usually around the stem, completly white. When they emerge to the outside , we can see their leaves, stems and flowers blooming.  But within this group of flowers, there is one able to challenge the worst weather: snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis ). The bulbs sprout sometimes, like this year, through the snow, between January and February (depending on  the year).

But in the beech forest floor Irati or along the river,  we found also in early spring, two plants quite striking. Not for its beauty but for its feeding: parasitic plants.
They have no green leaves or roots and take their food from the roots of their hosts.

In the beech forest is easy to discover with a pink and purple tone between toothwort. The toothwort  parasite tree roots, especially in areas of poor drainage. You know, that beeches like having feet dry,and when their feet puddles, often have problems. The plants like these, can only see when emerge from the ground for pollination and seed dispersal. for this reason,the
Latin name Lathraea clandestina( Underground).

                                                                               Toothwort(Lathraea clandestina)

   But the most remarkable parasitic plant is escumaria (Lathraea squamaria). It´s also parasitic of hazel roots and  Wych Elm. For this reason, their habitat is wetter. Irati river is a good place to find, although not very abundant.

Common Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria)

And how can to parasite? their get to create a kind of suckers, like a pad, which penetrate host tissues, reaching the system that transports nutrients. The escumaria has extensive underground stems and at intervals these stems emerge to form aerial stems, flowers carriers.

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