Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

irish woodlands

In the October woodlands 3 :Lichens, but they aren’t quite what we thought they are !

A little more detailed this post than my usual Friday posts but I found this articular very interesting, if only for the fact that its amazing just how much there is to be found in our local woodlands and just how much study is being carried ou,t even after so many years to revival the hidden secrets to the life that surrounds us on our daily walks along a forest path …..

Lichens aren’t quite what we thought, shocked scientists discover

Most people know lichens, such as this wolf lichen, as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark. You probably learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae, but many lichens have now been found to include a third partner, a yeast. (Tim Wheeler Photography)

Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae.

But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.

Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it “should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity” of the organisms that form them, says a new study published Thursday in Science.

University of Montana researcher Toby Spribille samples Bryoria or horsehair lichens. He first started studying lichens 15 years ago in British Columbia. His new study was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward. (Christoph Rosche)

The new yeast has apparently gone undetected in lichens for more than a century, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have devoted entire careers to studying lichens closely with microscopes and genetic testing.

That seemed so unlikely that the scientists working on the project had trouble believing it themselves.

“It’s so surprising that you kind of doubt yourself for a long time,” said John McCutcheon, a microbiologist at the University of Montana and a research fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who co-authored the new study published today in Science.

“We had to check our data more than 10 times,” recalled Toby Spribille, lead author of the paper. “It seemed to me so unlikely that so many people would have missed that.”
Lichen mystery

Spribille, a University of Montana botanist who first started studying lichens in British Columbia 15 years ago, was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward in a series of essays.
Wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America. (Toby Spribille)

It concerned two lichens that grow in B.C. and Montana and considered separate species for 100 years. One called wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America.

The other, called tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that they were genetically identical — they were made up of exactly the same species of fungus and the same species of algae.

“There’s something really weird about that,” Spribille said.
Tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that its fungus species and algae species are genetically identical to those in edible horsehair lichen. (Tim Wheeler)

He brought the problem up with McCutcheon, an expert in new, sophisticated genetic techniques that he typically uses to study insects.

Traditional DNA analysis relies on probes or lures to fish out certain characteristic regions of genetic material, partly based on what scientists expect to find — like calling out names in a dark room to see who’s there, Spribille said.

Newer techniques instead look for all genes that are in the process of being translated into proteins via “messenger” molecules called RNA. Spribille likens the technique to turning on the lights.

McCutcheon says that gives a sense of what an organism is doing at any given time.

To the researchers’ surprise, the RNA they found came not just from the fungus and the alga known to be associated with the lichens, but a mysterious third organism.

Further analysis showed it to be a new kind of yeast, belonging to the taxonomic group Basidiomycota, the same one that button mushrooms belong to. It was not at all related to the yeasts used to brew beer or bake bread. Yeast cells and DNA were extremely common in the yellow, poisonous lichen, but rare in the edible brown lichen.
A fluorescent microscope image shows the location of different cell types in a bryoria lichen, cut at the ends and lengthwise through the middle. Green are the yeasts, blue are the fungi, red are the algae. (Toby Spribille)

After running the experiment enough times to convince themselves the signal wasn’t due to contamination and pinpointing the yeast cells in the outer skin of the lichen, the researchers decided to see whether other lichens from around the world also contained the yeast. Sure enough, many did.

“Each lichen has a specific strain of the yeast,” McCutcheon said. “These form several new fungal families.”

DNA analysis suggests the yeast has been part of lichens for more than 100 million years — since the end of the Early Cretaceous, when dinosaurs like spinosaurus and allosaurus roamed the Earth, and flowering plants first appeared.

Spribille said the discovery “seriously challenges” a lot of assumptions that have been held by lichenologists for a century.

“At the next level up, it gives us insight into how one of the most fascinating symbioses works.”
‘Really major finding’

Goward, whose essay inspired the research, said he was delighted by the discovery.

“It’s all very exciting to me,” he added. “If Toby’s idea proves to be correct, this is the second really major finding that changes how we see these organisms” — after the 1860s discovery that lichens weren’t one organism, but made of two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus.

Irwin Brodo, an emeritus scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa who has devoted himself to the study of lichens for decades, said the discovery was “plausible” but “not proven yet.”

Brodo, who first gave the horsehair lichens the name Bryoria, said he was surprised that the new yeast cells were discovered in a part of the lichen that a lot of lichenologists, including himself, have examined carefully.

“I never saw them,” he said.

But he added that the presence of the yeast might also explain other longstanding mysteries about other lichens that look very different but have been found to be genetically identical.


October on the forest floor : fallen leaves

October on the Forest floor
Fallen Leaves
Nigel Borrington 2018

Today was a typical Autumn day here in country Kilkenny, we have had some mixed weather over the last few days, some sun , some rain. Today was mild but wet, so all the falling leaves were full of rain drops something I just had to capture 🙂


To Autumn, a poem by John Keats

To Autumn, By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


October on the Forest Floor, 2 ….. The Spider

October On the Forest floor
The Spider Moves in
Nigel Borrington


October – Along the Forest Path 1… (Viburnum Opulus) Guelder Rose, Berries

Viburnum Opulus Hedging

Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus, is one of Britain’s most beautiful native shrubs and it makes a great hedging plant, typically in a mixed country hedge. It also make a fine ornamental shrub for any garden: in the wild, it is often found in dappled woodland shade, but it needs full sun to give you the best show of flowers. Guelder Rose bushes will grow pretty much anywhere, including shady sites under large trees and chalky soils. It prefers a moist soil and will tolerate periods of waterlogging.
Guelder Rose is good for hedges up to about 5 metres high.
Browse all of our other varieties of Viburnum trees & shrubs plants. Alternatively, view our selection of native hedging or see our full range of hedging plants.

Guelder Rose hedge plants are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-March).

Choosing a size: When you are ordering Guelder Rose plants for a hedge, we suggest that you buy smaller plants if you are not in a rush. They are cheaper and easier to handle than large plants. They will also give you a bushy hedge with little effort.

Spacing Guelder Rose hedging:
Plant Guelder Rose at 3 plants per metre, 33cms apart.
You can also plant Guelder Rose at 5 plants per metre in a staggered double row, with 33 cms between each plant and 40cms between the rows.
The Guelder Rose makes an excellent mixed hedge plant, typically with hawthorn.

General description of Guelder Rose plants:
It has large, three lobed leaves that colour up in autumn with a jumble of tones that bleed together in a rough, rustic manner. The flowers are quite unique, with a ring of dainty little smooth star shaped flowers rising above bed of even smaller, bud-like blooms. The smaller flowers are the ones that ripen into blood red fruit, in time for the excellent red and yellow autumn colours.

History & uses of Viburnum opulus
The Guelder Rose isn’t a rose at all, it is closely related to the elderflowers. The name probably comes from the Dutch region of Gelderland. Guelder Rose berries were one of the secondary food sources that our ancestors would have depended upon in hard times. We don’t recommend eating them, as even slightly unripe fruit will cause stomach upsets, but if civilisation happens to collapse and you find yourself living in the woods, you could feed yourself by boiling up them up into a soup. Until then, we recommend leaving the berries for the birds.


To Autumn – Poem by William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake


E.B. White: Song of the Queen Bee

A great poem by E.B. White, published in the New Yorker Magazine 1945, even back then people loved their bee’s .

These days they need lots of love and care as it feels like its getting harder and harder of find them !!!!!

“The breeding of the bee,” says a United States Department
of Agriculture bulletin on artificial insemination, “has
always been handicapped by the fact that the queen mates
in the air with whatever drone she encounters.”

When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
That’s me.
I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.

Let old geneticists plot and plan,
They’re stuffy people, to a man;
Let gossips whisper behind their fan.
(Oh, she does?
Buzz, buzz, buzz!)
My nuptial flight is sheer delight;
I’m a giddy girl who likes to swirl,
To fly and soar
And fly some more,
I’m a bee.
And I wish to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

There’s a kind of a wild and glad elation
In the natural way of insemination;
Who thinks that love is a handicap
Is a fuddydud and a common sap,
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy-free,
The test tube doesn’t appeal to me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
And I’m here to state that I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Mares and cows. by calculating,
Improve themselves with loveless mating,
Let groundlings breed in the modern fashion,
I’ll stick to the air and the grand old passion;
I may be small and I’m just a bee
But I won’t have science improving me,
Not me,
I’m a bee.
On a day that’s fair with a wind that’s free,
Any old drone is a lad for me.

I’ve no flair for love moderne,
It’s far too studied, far too stern,
I’m just a bee—I’m wild, I’m free,
That’s me.
I can’t afford to be too choosy;
In every queen there’s a touch of floozy,
And it’s simply rare
In the upper air
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.

Man is a fool for the latest movement,
He broods and broods on race improvement;
What boots it to improve a bee
If it means the end of ecstasy?
(He ought to be there
On a day that’s fair,
Oh, it’s simply rare.
For a bee.)

Man’s so wise he is growing foolish,
Some of his schemes are downright ghoulish;
He owns a bomb that’ll end creation
And he wants to change the sex relation,
He thinks that love is a handicap,
He’s a fuddydud, he’s a simple sap;
Man is a meddler, man’s a boob,
He looks for love in the depths of a tube,
His restless mind is forever ranging,
He thinks he’s advancing as long as he’s changing,
He cracks the atom, he racks his skull,
Man is meddlesome, man is dull,
Man is busy instead of idle,
Man is alarmingly suicidal,
Me, I am a bee.

I am a bee and I simply love it,
I am a bee and I’m darn glad of it,
I am a bee, I know about love:
You go upstairs, you go above,
You do not pause to dine or sup,
The sky won’t wait —it’s a long trip up;
You rise, you soar, you take the blue,
It’s you and me, kid, me and you,
It’s everything, it’s the nearest drone,
It’s never a thing that you find alone.
I’m a bee,
I’m free.

If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have—by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy-free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter.


Images of September, The Woodcock butterfly

Images of September
Woodcock Butterfly
County Kilkenny
Ireland
Nikon D700
Nigel Borrington


Natural world : Working with Trees and Tree Spirits

Tree Spirits Nigel Borrington

Working with Trees and Tree Spirits

Article from Sacred serpent …..

Trees are probably the most evolved of all plants. There is a special relationship between trees and humans, as trees produce the oxygen that we need to breathe, while we exhale carbon dioxide which trees thrive on. You could say that our exhalation is their inhalation and vice versa! Trees are multidimensional beings. They have their roots deep down in the earth which signifies their connection to the Underworld. Their trunks and lower branches are in our world, the world of men, which in shamanic terms is called the Middle World. The branches of tall trees reach high in the sky which makes them a bridge into the Upper World. In fact, in many cultures shamans journey into the Upper World by visualizing themselves climbing a tall tree to the very top and then flying up into the sky! Trees also connect us to other realms, such as the Faerie Realm, which is in a parallel dimension to ours.

The cutting down of forests and trees in our reality gradually destroys the Faerie Realm as well. Tree spirits are only loosely connected with their physical bodies, the actual visible tree. Because they are multidimensional and enjoy great freedom on the astral, and because of their connection to other realms, they can help us in journeying and inter-dimensional travel. Besides, meditating with a tree can be very relaxing and helps us to get grounded. Trees are great energy converters as well. They can transmute our negative energies and help us heal. This is shown by the very fact that they thrive on our metabolic waste products (carbon dioxide). For this reason we can draw energy from a tree without depleting it simply by giving it some of our unwanted energy in exchange.


County Kilkenny , Nature photography – Deep in the Springtime woodlands