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Nature Notes

Pollinator Plant Swap

A magnificent thirty different pollinator-friendly species of plants found new homes at our evening at Forncett Village Hall on 20 May, 2022. There were many old favourites like Ox Eye Daisies, Cornflowers and Lungwort (Pulmonaria) as well as a rarity – the agricultural ‘weed’ Shepherd’s Needle (now rare due to changes in farming methods). Plants which are good for pollinators don’t need to be native wild flowers – many garden plants are great sources of nectar and help maintain a good supply for pollinators from season to season.

Poached egg plant.Photo C Wakeford smPoached Egg Plant Photo: C Wakeford

 We started off with light hearted informal talks about some of the plants – Christina Wakeford introduced the poached egg flower (Limnanthes douglasii), a colourful early flowering annual which is a great source of nectar for many insects when they need it most. Foxglove was next under the spotlight as Billy Hosea told us about its many benefits and its use in herbal medicine. Pam Merrick brought a good supply of Honeywort (Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'), a garden plant with lovely grayish foliage and purple flowers on eye-catching purpleish bracts. As its name suggests it is packed with nectar. Pam recommended “Plants for Bees” by W.D.J. Kirk and F.N. Howes published by International Bee Research Association, 2012.

Cerithe Photo Pam Merrick 2 smCerinthe Photo: P Merrick

 Mick Finnemore, a local ecologist, is involved in a project to see if the Shrill Carder Bee is alive and kicking in South Norfolk. This is one of our rarest bumblebees with only two recorded populations in the UK. After a photograph of a Shrill Carder Bee, believed to have been taken in South Norfolk came to light, Mick has been developing a project to investigate possible sites, including one in Forncett and others locally, using instrumentation developed from bat detectors. The Shrill Carder Bee emits a distinctive high pitched sound and queens in particular can be identified by sound alone. If you’d like to help track it down Mick would welcome more volunteers. Just email us - - and we’ll put you in touch. The cover photo of this article is a Shrill Carder Bee, thanks to Ivar Leidus - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42916944

It was a great evening with a lovely group of 21 people sharing plants, refreshments and information. Thanks to everyone who brought plants and helped with the organisation. It’s exciting to think of all those insect food banks spreading through Forncett and beyond.

 

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