Flora and Fauna - Myths and Stories

By Article by Kitty Stower, images by Matt Adams

Gathering at the start of the talk
Gathering at the start of the talk

Tim's title for his walk was Flora and Fauna - Myths and Stories, and on the afternoon of Sunday October 9th we were treated to an abundance of all these; what a knowledgeable young man he is!

Tim Enlightens
Tim Enlightens

First of all he told us about the many edible plants which are available in woodlands, but warned us about testing these without gaining further information and mentioned a book on the subject, called Flora Britannica, by Richard Mabey.

We heard a lot about mushrooms and fungi, and the best places to look for them (for instance under certain trees), but as I didn't take detailed notes - I'm sticking with Tescos, which is a pity as the wild ones are far more flavoursome.

Tim Kirwin
Tim Kirwin

The Oak is the Guardian of the woodlands. They are the doorway to the next life and ward off witchcraft and the evil eye. Trees have connections with all the "gods" and in a sense all religions. The mountain ash is said to ward off evil.

The Scots Pine is not native to England or Scotland - but, if you mix the resin from the pine with white wine you have something like Retsina! ! Elder stems are good for lighting fires and an edible fungus grows on Elders, called Jews meat or Jews ear.

Tim and Ken Whittle

Bracken, another woodland plant, is associated with thunder and lightning, apparently warding it off! The Holly and the Ivy (that has a currently seasonable connotation); Ivy is female because it clings - the Holly is male because (according to Tim) like the stinging, underside of a nettle, it is prickly and erect. The top of a nettle leaf is soft and without a sting, i.e. female.

Tim Kirwin
Tim Enlightens More

Holm Oaks have special significance for F.O.S.W. Historically, the Druids used the embers of, burnt Holm Oaks, and the Romans had a grove of them outside Rome, with twelve priests to care for them.

..if you move your hand quickly enough, you can make out like you have more fingers than you actually have...
..if you move your hand quickly enough,
you can make out like you have more
fingers than you actually have...

Wild life in the Woods. There are lots of butterfly species which feed on the nettles, and the high pitched shriek of the shrew can sometimes be heard. The shrew is the only rodent that will face up to a cat - the cats back off. Tim reckons that if a shrew were as big as a dog it would be an excellent vandal deterrent. Toads have the unfortunate reputation of turning the milk sour. (They were probably only seen when weather conditions were thundery, and so were conducive to the milk turning).

The Group is Enthralled

This and much more was related by Tim, many thanks to him and we look forward to his next presentation when he can find the time, in between caring for a vast number of other woods.

At the Holm Oaks

Tim can be contacted at the Woodland Trust here.