Written by Lucy Brzoska
Wild weather of recent years has opened up Collserola’s woods, and one of the most rapid colonisers of the new clearings has been the rock rose, especially Sage-leaf Cistus. This May everywhere you look, hundreds and hundreds of white flowers are shining in the sunlight.
The yellow base of each petal emphasizes the thick clump of stamen, creating a densely yellow heart.
Insects are drawn to the rich, easily accessible supplies of pollen. As well as bumblebees and white-spotted rose beetles I found this male Anthaxia hungarica, with enormous black eyes and green metallic sheen, dining in radiant surroundings.
Another member of the Rock rose family was in flower, Tuberaria guttata, with a strongly marked red-brown ring to guide pollinators to their target.
While holm oaks and pines predominate, in the north of Collserola there are many deciduous oaks. Here, under the shade of the new canopy, Granny’s Nightcaps (Aquilegia vulgaris) are blooming. The elaborately structured flowers hang down, and the nectar is stowed deep within, at the end of narrow, neatly coiled spurs. Bumble bees were out foraging, but instead of disappearing inside the flower in search of their booty, and emerging dusted in pollen, they were settling on top. Each spur had a small hole bitten out: the flowers were being cleaned out by backdoor thieves!