In a July heatwave 21 degrees was predicted for Cumbria. We drove through light rain and there was a fresh breeze on Smardale Fell where Bell Heather bloomed but Ling was in tight bud. I know a bank where Grass of Parnassus grows. We were too early but found Bird's-eye Primrose in its second flowering Swifts flew screeching over Scandal Beck and a heron came down beside the beck whose banks were thick with Meadowsweet.
Bloody Cranesbill is a Smardale special and the flowers were spectacular. I want to show the plant en masse in its habitat, in a changing floral mix where it grows by the limekilns and along the disused railway line to Smardale Gill Viaduct. The flowering of Bloody Cranesbill is a highlight of summer at Smardale with its splash of rich colour. Bloody Cranesbill, Geranium Sanguineum. Flowers show in varying shades of intense colour but are these the colours of blood?
Within the corolla of purple petals you may see a pin of scarlet, the style and pollen-bearing stigma, the gynoecium that will bear the fruit, the seed-pod. It's a gem of colour, the colour of bright blood. Bloody Cranesbill is hermaphrodite and is pollinated by Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, sawflies), by Coleoptera (beetles), and Syrphidae (hoverflies) And butterflies. Once the flower is pollinated the stigma splits and unfurls and shows creamy-white, the ovary swells and the seed-pod begins to form. Now the flower loses its purple petals and the calyx of five sepals shows as a small star of scarlet or pale pink- dilutions of blood. Today, a mass of Bloody Cranesbill shows purple flowers, fresh and unpollinated flowers with the smaller stars of the pollinated flowers too. Look closely and you can see when a flower has been pollinated. I think my close-up of the scarlet sepals and gynoecium of bloody cranesbill is one of the more striking images of the day.
Images below show various Smardale cranesbill. Today, I'm focused on how you can see different stages of the reproductive process