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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Nature of Corsica 5: Assorted Insects


Dragonfly - possibly Sympetrum striolatum
Insect life we found in Corsica after the hot dry summer was at a lower ebb than I might have expected, but there was still much to be found when we went looking. I will do a separate post on the various butterflies, but in this post I will cover some of the more interesting insects we found.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Nature of Corsica 4: Trees and Shrubs


Umbrella Pine, Pinus pinea
With very little level ground for fields, most of northern Corsica that we saw is covered with forest and scrub.  Starting at the coast, on sunny hillsides can be found Euphorbia dendroides, Tree Spurge, the only non-herbaceous Euphorbia native to the mainland of Europe. It has a range around the Mediterranean, but because of its ornamental appearance it has been used in gardens in other parts of the world. As with many such plants, in some places it has “jumped the fence” and become an invasive weed in some places (California for example). This is especially a problem as like all Euphorbias it has a toxic latex and may cause dermatitis in people who come in contact with it

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Nature of Corsica 3: Herbaceous plants


G.asclepiadea
In areas with more constant water supply, such as by the sides of streams or under trees, there are a wide variety of herbaceous plants and shrubs, many of which are known as ornamental garden plants or as culinary or medicinal herbs. One of the most ornamental of those in flower at the time of our visit is the Willow Gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea. This is a much taller growing plant than the alpine gentians more familiar to most gardeners, and reached around 70cm in some of the clumps we found – these were mostly by the edge of streams. In cultivation they need humus-rich, moist soil in shade, similar to their native habitat, which is primarily montane woodland across Europe from the Alps eastwards. Although the usual form has deep blue flowers, pale forms are also found – see the example below:

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Nature of Corsica 2: Bulbs


Cyclamen hederifolium
Before the arrival of people, Corsica and Sardinia were home to a range of endemic large mammals. Although these are now sadly gone, there are still a huge range of native plants, many endemic to the island, although they are usually closely related to those in Italy or other parts of southern Europe, especially those around the coast. At higher elevations are found plants more widespread across Europe and into Asia across the temperate and alpine zones. Many are spring flowering, but other flower all year or only in the autumn, so I got some reasonable photos. I will cover them over the next few posts, but I will start with the bulbs and others.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Nature of Corsica 1: Backgound to the island




In September I went on a trip with Naturetrek to spend a week in search of the birds and other wildlife of Corsica. For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with Europe, Corsica is a mountainous island west of Italy and in sight of the coast of France, with Sardinia to the south and the Balearic islands to the west. Geologically, the two islands started as a microplate which split from the coast of Spain around 20 million years ago and then rotated counterclockwise, eventually losing contact with the mainland around 5 million years ago, aside from brief connections during glacial periods when sea level dropped.