Sunday, 17 April 2011

Tongues and Lungs

Pulmonaria or Lungwort
If you have a shady spot where nothing will grow - try Pulmonarias. These beauties will grow quite happily in that shady corner, will stay evergreen all year long and provide early nectar and pollen for the bees. I have a clump I inherited when we bought the house. I'm not certain which variety they are but, every year they provide the most fantastic show. Plus, they also attract one of my favourite bees.

Lots of evergreen leaves - Pulmonaria in October

The buds start red, then the flowers turn purple and blue
The bumblebees soon start to arrive
Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes)
My favourite visitor to the Pulmonarias are these jet black, tubby, solitary bees. They hover beside the flowers then dart around very quickly and are very hard to focus on. As soon as you get them in your sights they whizz off leaving you with a shot of an out of focus flower.

Having searched round the internet I think these little guys are Anthophora Plumipes. The black ones are the females. The males are totally different, they are brown with the hairy feet. They appear towards the beginning of March and once the pulmonarias are exhausted they disappear (in May). 

Anthophora plumipes
 These guys have incredibly long tongues. I was lucky enough to get a shot as one of them prepares to land. I have seen them on our Hawere Daffodila and on some bluebells - but, the pulmonarias really are their favourite.
Anthophora Plumipes

 There are some great photos of the males here.

...and some more info on them here

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