Seeds, fruits and berries
Autumn is here, and while the farmers race to get the fields ploughed and sown with next year’s crops, many other plants are making their provision for regeneration after the winter.
Trees are making seeds, and they vary so much.
The conkers are beautiful large, rich, shiny nuts – but poisonous to eat. They are formed in spiky green shells, that split when the seed inside is ripe.
I found these ones lying on the village green – a surprise, as when I was a child, all fallen conkers were eagerly scooped up, to be drilled and suspended on string for a game of conkers.
The nearby field maple’s seeds have wings, which spin through the air like little helicopters. This helps to spread the seeds around – and they are fun to twirl around and play with.
The ash tree scatters its seeds – often called ‘keys’ – thickly on the ground. If I didn’t weed my garden, it would quickly turn into an impenetrable forest of ash saplings.
The seeds of the apple tree – the pips – are hidden inside a ball of sweet, juicy, delicious fruit, eagerly eaten by me, friends, family – and birds, slugs, insects and fungi. Everything loves feeding on the apples.
Other trees make berries. Honeysuckle, cotoneaster, and pyracantha are all festooned with bright berries, which will feed the birds for some months to come. The cotoneaster and pyracantha are introduced species, planted in our gardens but not naturalised in the countryside. However, the birds love them – and as some are evergreen, they provide shelter to them in winter.