The flora of Périgord in South-West France is abundant and diverse. In this blog you can find, in pictures, brief encounters with wild flowers and plants as they grow here. There are portraits of about hundred different plants, and following the seasons other species are added.
Corine is a botanist and photographer and she offers guided Botanical Walks and other activities around plants and vegetation in nature in Perigord.
Do you want to know more? See About Walks and the Calendar at the right below on this page.
November 26, 2019
This is a Hazel (Corylus avellana) bush during a summer shower.
Now leaves should be falling, but this year they don't fall that much. To turn yellow or red and to detach themselves from the branches, they need some cold days or nights. Well, this autumn is too warm, so there is still a lot of green in the forest.
Those Hazel leaves, oval shaped, dented, with visible veins and a typical little point at the end, got paler, but just a little bit.
There are individual differences between bushes, all the same. Under a Hazel a bit further on there are already a lot of fallen leaves.
In some weeks there will be nothing but naked boughs.
An old Hazel bush looks like a big bunch of trunks and branches that come out of the ground at roughly the same spot; when the oldest of them die, new shoots develop near them.
November 25, 2019
Some fallen leaves in a Hornbeam wood.
But normally leaves of Hornbeams (Carpinus betulus) turn yellow in autumn, isn't it? It seems this is not always true.
Confirmed when we look upwards. Two Hornbeam trees wit reddish leaves. Exceptions to the rule exist.
November 18, 2019
On a tree trunk grow salad-green leave-like structures. At least, in this wet autimn they are clear gree, when it is dry they will turn brownish. They are from a lichens called Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria), one of the biggest lichens of France.
Its thallus (the "leaf"), a long, lobed shape more or less hanging can get until 40 cm long. Here, the thalli are much shorter. If you look from nearby you see the thalli have different colours and shapes.
The lichen is a slow grower, and there are younger and older thallu present on the same tree.
Their surface is reticulated and on the ridges grow little soredia, here visible as a kind of grey-green powdery stuff. Soredia assume the vegetative reproduction of the lichen, they contain samples of the ascomycete and the cyanobacter that live together as a lichen, and that can move on towards another tree.
Tree Lungwort is an organism of older forests with old deciduous trees, in Dordogne Oaks and Hornbeams. Because it is sensitive to certain kinds of air polution, notably sulfur dioxide, it has disappeared from industrialized and urbanized areas. In Périgord it can still be found, here and there.
October 23, 2019
Some plants love tarmac, especially on small roads. This is the case for this spurge, Spotted Sandmat (Euphorbia maculata). It flattens itself on the surface of the road and covers it with many small stems.
It is not true all Spurges look alike, in fact the Euphorbiaceae family is very diverse with species you would not consider Spurges at all, at first sight. In France there are only two groups of the genus Euphorbia: the green-yellow ones that generally hold themselves upright, and the green-reddish ones that are more spreading. Spotted Sandmat belongs to the last group.
The leaves have sometimes ted spots. It is easy to recognize the fruits as those of a Spurge, little hanging balls. With Spotted Sandmat they are covered with white silky hairs.
You think to see white flowers, but no, they are not real flowers, but white appendices to the glands. The real flowers, small and greenish, are inside those glands and not visible in the picture.
Spotted Sandmat is an introduced species originally from North America and now it grows everywhere in Perigord.
October 15, 2019
It is not any longer in flower, the Prostrate Toadflax (Linaria supina). At this time of the year it only has fruits. The little black seeds are just visible in the seedcases.
During summer luminous yellow flowers, for so small a plant rather large, attract insects, not only bees but also those that can get to the end of the long spur. Leaves are thin and linear.
Prostrate Toadflax is a mediterranean plant from dry and stony places like rocky slopes. In Dordogne we don't find it that often. Here and there on some limestone hillsides well exposed to the sun, but mostly in railroad stations between the rails, an artificial habitat that looks very much like the scree it prefers.
The flowers are richly adorned wit diverse protrusions, all kinds of yellow and red, and a variety of stripes.
October 14, 2019
After this hot and dry summer many lakes, ponds and reservoirs are dried out. The water has simply evaporated in the heat or - most of it - has been used by farmers to water their cornfields. It is normal there is less water in in summer than in spring, but this year really a lot of water disppeared. This is serious, and it created real problems for many natural habitats and the species that are dependent on them. But there are exceptions, like this Water Germander (Teucrium scordium). It is abundant this year.
It grows in wet habitats where the water level changes during the year, as here in a large reservoir. You won't find it in the center of the lake; there is always water, even in the hottest of summer. You won't find it either near or on the edges because there it is too dry. But between the two, where the water retires more and more during summer, it thrives. Its underground roots stay alive during inundated periods and when the lake dries out it makes new sprouts and also a lot of stolons in the drying mud with which it spreads over a large surface.
Like al germanders, it has flowers with only one lip, the lower one. The leaves have rounded dents and they are very downy. Like many flowers of the Lamiaceae family, Water Germander is aromatic.
October 9, 2019
Now the flowering is over. A maze of small branches full of heat-shaped leaves and tiny fruits cover the naked soil in this little spot of wasteland. The downy leaves of Round-leaved Fluellen (Kickxia spuria) are covered with dewdrops, which makes them look rather greyish in this image.
Round-leaved Fluellen is a plant of arable lands, but not only, you can find it also outside agricultural fields and garden allotments.
It is an annual plant and normally it only begins to grow when summer is well on its way. It grows fast and efficient, in only a few weeks a plant can make long spaghettis covered in leaves and flowers. The latter are small but colourful, their spurs look like the tail of a small animal seen from above.
The lip, here closed, is deep dark red, nearly black, and the rest of the flower is pale yellow. A striking contrast.
Best wishes, Fluellen !