Honeysuckle or Feithleann with its bright flowers and sweet perfume is a symbol of beauty and summertime,so writes Niall Mac Coitir in his Irish Wild Plants.The plant is a climber and can be seen at the west end of the Green walk,below the side gate in the boundary wall .You may well pick up the scent as you approach through the wood - evening time is a must!
A hedgerow plant with compact heads of creamy,trumpet shaped flowers often flushed with red or purple.The one here may well be an 'escapee' from a nearby garden,but a welcome addition it surely is to the wood.
Night-flying Moths are attracted by the scent which is strongest at dusk,and pollinate the flowers as they seek nectar.
In folklore honeysuckle was believed to protect against harmful influences and witchcraft while here in Ireland it was believed to have a power against bad spirits and was used in a drink to cure the effects of the evil eye.
The plant is noted for the toughness of its wood,and it has the ability to choke off the growth of any tree it wraps itself aroundIn Ireland this trait led to the old saying that anything that was hard to break was chomh righin leis an taith-fheithleann,'as tough as a honersuckle'.
The Bagwell family lived in Marlfield House on the banks of the river Suir for centuries.They oversaw the completion of the walks at the Rock,Marlfield.These walks,we in the Two Bridges Partnership have returned to public use over the past eight years.Two of the lovely features within the woods are the zig-zags east and west.The stone steps in the first image above are the original steps installed by the Bagwells in the nineteenth century and are on the eastern zig-zag.The second image shows the new steps built into the track above the original ones.This had been a very steep ascent on the turn at the top of the track and is the first major change to the track in over a hundred years.Work to improve the track at the western zig-zag will begin over the summer with the building of a number of steps to ease ascent and descent.Feel free to comment on the work done to date or with suggestions.
The plant, native of both Tibet and China was introduced into the Rock God knows when,but probably in the nineteen hundreds by the Bagwells.
Birds of all feathers love the plant for its luscious berries not least game birds,hence the name.
First appeared on the Blue track mid-way down/up the eastern zig-zag some time after we removed the dense cover of laurel.Now appears elsewhere in the woods.Keep an eye out and tell us where you find it.
On Blue the plant is now in flower and I think,looks amazing.
I encourage you to pause a while and take in the plant at your ease.
Retains it's flowers even to when the berries are ripe and retains the lovely green leaves right through the year.
June the onset of summer with the Cuckoo-spit in evidence all over the woodland.The Cuckoo-spit insect,for that is what it is, is also known as the Froghopper or Spittle Bug - seile cuaiche.
The froth or spit is the nymphal stage .The froth serves a number of functions: - hiding the insect,protection from predators,keeping the insect moist as well as keeping us engaged in looking out for the spit this time of year!
Below is an image of the insect in all it's glorious colour courtesy of Wikipedia.
Any examples I have seen to date in Ireland have all been at the nymph stage and show a uniform colour akin to the orange band below,though more muted.
Do keep a lookout as you amble through the woods for the tell-tale spit and if you must take a look inside carefully peel away the froth with a stalk of grass to see the insect but be sure to cover it up again before saying your goodbye!
More to be found about the insect at Wikipedia.
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