The Hull Natural History Society

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News 2022

Hair Ice

Hair Ice I was lucky enough to spot this 'Hair Ice' on a rotting branch at Beggar’s Bridge in Glaisdale in December.

It's an uncommon sight because of the specific conditions under which it forms. First, it only occurs on rotting wood hosting the thin jelly fungus Exidiopsis effusa. Second, it needs specific conditions of environment and weather: a damp place where the temperature has suddenly dropped to just under 0° C.

Alfred Wegener first proposed the connection between Hair Ice and fungus in 1918 but it took a century for a group of German scientists to study the process in detail, involving 'ice segregation' on the wood surface, whereby traces of lignin and tannin, released during fungal decomposition, are sucked into the ice crystals. Hair Ice can grow up to 20 cm and form spectacular 'tresses'. Mine was a more modest example of around 5 cm, but still an exciting find.

Met Office. Hair Ice.

SCI-NEWS website (2015). European Biologists Finally Solve Mystery of Hair Ice.

Helen Kitson, 1 January 2022

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt (1)

Hull. On New Year’s Day I started a solo plant hunt on Princes Avenue, where the neglected flowerbeds were surprisingly productive. Thereafter I combed the pavements, terraces and tenfoots off Newland Avenue, for the usual urban mix mix of waste ground species, common wildflowers and the more frequent garden escapees. Sculcoates was a disappointment as the Council have recently fenced and paved the small terraces – not a weed in sight! - but Mexican Fleabane was still there high up on a factory wall. The biggest surprise was by the river at industrial Wincolmlee where Cornflower, Fiddleneck, Field Pansy and an "improved" arable Red Clover (var. sativa) were in full bloom, escapees from a wildflower mix persisting as roadside casuals. Total 49.

Hessle on 3rd January with John Killingbeck, was fairly deserted. Sainsbury’s car park, Priory Park and Ride and the grassy slopes surrounding the motor car franchises, all close together, in a very short time yielded well over 50 species, notably Narrow-leaved Ragwort, Gorse, Black Medick, Cornsalad, Catsear, Pellitory-of-the-Wall, Hedge Bindweed, Red Campion. Urban Hessle, including the churchyard, was disappointing. Total 57.

Gabrielle Jarvis, 10 January 2022

BSBI New Year Plant Hunt (2)

Balkan Spurge Also on January 3rd another group of four members had a pleasant wander around the Grovehill Road / Beverley Beck area, exploring as many interesting alleys and passages as possible. Despite our efforts the final total was only 31. The most unusual find was Balkan Spurge (Euphorbia oblongata) (see above photo), naturalised on waste ground. This was accepted as a new BSBI vice-county record.

Andrew Chadwick, 10 January 2022