Elder seedling identification, Sambucus nigra

July 9, 2010

Elder seedling identification Sambucus nigra.

Elder, Sambucus nigra identification

Elder grow quickly and can become a big weed shrub, though they do produce an abundance of fruit for the birds in autumn. The Elder rely on birds to distribute their seeds and is why the Elder are spread wide and far.

It is difficult to identify what the plant by the cotyledons and even the first pair of true leaves. You can identify the Elder when they grow the pinata leaves which grow in oppositepais consisting of two, three or four pairs of broadly egg-shaped, serrated leaflets and terminal one.

Images Copyright Neil Bromhall. www.rightplants4me.co.uk

For in interactive plant database to help with plant identification where you can select by Latin or common name, colour, height, month etc. and accompanied with 9,000 images please see www.complete-gardens.co.uk

Hazel seedling identification. Corylus avellana

July 7, 2010

Hazel seedling with roots


Plant identification. Hazel seedling. 

Corylus avellana. 

The first true rounded, serrated edged  leaves grow quickly 

The protective nut shell from where the Hazel germinated is still attached.
Hazel can be a bit of an unwanted weed shrub if the seedling is given the opportunity to take root. The seedlings are easy to pull up when small but will need digging up if the plant is more than a year or two old.

Hazel nut seedling and roots


Here is a time-lapse of the male hazel catkins. The small red female stigmas protrude from the bud. The pollen sticks to the ends of the stigmas and fertilises the plant.

Aphid infestation on rose bud, time-lapse

June 30, 2009

Aphids are attracted to the tender new growth. Here is a time-lapse of rose leaf bud growing and as it does becomes infested with aphids.

At the end of the sequence, one of the natural aphid preditors the hoverfly larva comes in and eats most if not all of the aphids.

This shows just how efficient hoverfly larvae are at controlling aphids.

The sequence was filmed over a period of 24 hrs.

filmed for my website http://www.rightplants4me.co.uk

What’s making holes in the leaves? Leafcutter bee

October 14, 2008
If you wonder what is cutting circular holes around the margins of your leaves, then it’s likely to be the solitary leaf-cutter bee.
The longer cuts are used for wrapped around the chamber. The female will then provision the chamber and lay an egg. The circular cuts are used to seal off the chamber. The egg hatches into a grub.
The grub eats the pollen, pupates and later emerges as a bee.
The female leafcutter bees select leaves that are bendable and not too heavy to carry.
Leaf cutter bee damage to leaves

Leaf cutter bee damage to leaves

Bees are vital for pollination. You can buy leafcutter bee houses to attract the bees to your garden. The leaf-cutter bees are solitary and unlike honey bees do not swarm like honey bees so they are little or no danger to humans or pets.

Bees are vital for pollination.

Leaf-cutter bee house

Leaf-cutter bee house

You can buy leafcutter bee houses to attract the bees to your garden.

 Leafcutter bee house. Leaf cutter bees like hollow tubes and bamboo are ideal. They also excavate tunnels in flower pots where light gritty compost is used.  

Leaf-cutter bee chambers

Leaf-cutter bee chambers

Here I’ve cut open a bamboo cane to reveal the leaf-cutter bee nest chambers. Row of leaf-cutter bee chambers lined with cut leaves. The male will be nearest the exit

The female has used the circular cuts to seal off the ends of the chamber, whereas the longer cuts are wrapped around the sides. The adult bee will provision the chamber with pollen and lay an egg. The larva feeds of the pollen.

The female larva are the first to be layed and are deepest in the line. This means that if the nest is predated by a woodpecker, the feamles have a better chance of avoiding being eaten. The male larva is nearst the exit and will be the first to be eaten.

Leaf-cutter bee larva inside chamber, eating the pollen provided by the bee

Leaf-cutter bee larva inside chamber, eating the pollen provided by the bee

Although this larva will probably die, I carefully replaced the bamboo and sealed it with wax to keep the chambers intact and dry.

Leaf-cutterbee damage to a rose

Leaf-cutterbee damage to a rose

Leaf damage on rose by leaf cutter bees

Narcissus grub eating daffodil bulb. Garden pest identification

October 12, 2008


Narcissus grub larva. 10mm long

Narcissus grub larva. 10mm long

Narcissus grub eating daffodil

Narcissus grub eating daffodil

If you’re digging the garden or planting bulbs, it’s worth checking on your daffodil bulbs for the Narcissus grubs.

Narcissus grub eating a daffodil bulb

Narcissus grub eating a daffodil bulb

These pests eat the inside of your daffodil bulbs.

Discard the bulb as they probably won’t recover.

Narcissus bulbs. healthy and narcissus grub infected

Narcissus bulbs. healthy and narcissus grub infected

It is easy to see which bulbs are healthy and which ones are infected. At the base of an infected bulb will be black and unhealthy looking

Bee safe wasp trap. How to make your own wasp trap for free

September 11, 2008
Wasp killed in trap

Wasp killed in trap

Wasps can be a pest, especially if you’re eating or drinking in the garden and the wasps want to join in.

You can make your own bee safe wasp trap without attracting and killing bees in the process.

Recycle plastic container.An empty plastci container makes an excellent wasp trap

Cut the top off to make a funnel

Cut the top off to make a funnel

Cut a plastic bottle and turn the funnel up-side-down so it fits inside the container.Make a funnel to allow wasps to enter

This makes easy access for wasps to enter the narrow hole yet difficult to escape.

Sweet and sour attractant attracts wasps but not bees

Sweet and sour attractant attracts wasps but not bees

Add a mixture of vinegar, sugar and salt.  The wasps are attracted to the sweet and sour scent yet bees don’t seem to be attracted by this sour mixture whereas a honey mix would be a fatal attractant.

Keep the wasp trap out of the rain as it will quickly fill with rainwater.

The down-side of this wasp trap is it also attracts and traps beneficial insects such as lacewing and hoverflies which are a natural pest control of aphids.

For my garden plant identification website please see www.rightplants4me.co.uk  It’s free to browse and has some of my time lapses. I hope you find it useful

Are Wasps a pest or garden natural pest control

August 28, 2008

Wasps are fascinating eusocial insects with a queen and many infertile female workers. I think they are the tigers of the air. Some people consider wasps a pest because they eat the fruit and drink their beer whereas others consider them a welcome garden natural pest control.

As the season comes to an end, they prepare by producing Virgin Queens to carry the genes in to the next generation.

Queen wasp building a nest

Instead of only producing workers to tend the nest, the workers of colony decide to feed some the larva with protein to produce Queens. They want meat. Prey can be caterpillars, or insects, some they rade from spiders webs. They chop the caterpillars into manageable pieces and fly back to the nest where they are chewed up and fed to the larger queen larva. It’s only the larvae that can eat meat, Wasps can’t. The larvae regurgitate a sugary meal in return for being fed by the adult wasps.

Wasps are very useful as natural garden pest control because they eat a large number of garden pests such as caterpillars, aphids, queen ants.

Wasp nest in lawn can be dangerous to humans and pets

Wasp nest in lawn can be dangerous to humans and pets Wasps excavating a mouse hole in lawn

Wasps excavating a mouse hole in a lawn

Wasps excavating a mouse hole in a lawn

Wasps will often make their nests in our loft space, where it is dry and out of the way of danger or under tree roots and sometimes they will excave underground mouse holes. These can be more of a problem because if they are disturbed by people walking on the lawn near the nest or disturbed by the vibrations from a lawn mower, they are more likely to go and defend their nest and sting whatever they consider a danger.

A powder can be sprayed in to the nest – best to do this at night when it’s dark and all the wasps are inside the nest and less able to come out in defence of the nest.  If the colony is causing no danger to humans or pets then best to leave them alone.

In the northern hemisphere only the Queens survive the winter by hibernating and emerge the following spring to start a new colony. All the workers and drones will die.

In New Zealand however, the weather allows the wasp colony to survive all year round and our European or German wasps are causing havoc to their native wildlife.

Photography Neil Bromhall. rightplants4me.co.uk