Frutti di Bosco (Allen Banks II)

It’s impossible to say which is my favourite gelato flavour; the artisan producers of Italy can create delights from a vast range of ingredients (it is the only country where sales of the hand-made product exceed the mass-produced).  Elsewhere however (are you listening Croatia?) they rarely achieve the same intensity of flavour and so my fallback option is Frutti di Bosco, the berries usually survive the limitations of the producer, but if all else fails I have the pleasure of rolling my tongue around those three words which virtually demand a flourish in their pronunciation.

None of which has any bearing on today’s post except that within minutes of beginning my walk the title was already in mind; it means woodland fruits.

Woodland walks usually cause me to bemoan my complete inability to identify trees; yes I can spot an oak, a sycamore or a chestnut by the shape of their leaves and fruits but beyond this I’m on shaky ground.  If you can recall the Monty Python Highwayman sketch you’ll know I’m not the one to spot a hornbeam!  Nor were there any lupins on my agenda.  Nevertheless, weighed down by the amount of equipment I’d opted to bring I quickly concluded that paying attention to the botany gave me plenty of opportunities to rest.  When I stopped I paid more attention to my surroundings and suddenly a new world of autumn opened up to me.  I may have needed no more than a macro lens, but would probably have walked past so many gems had I been travelling lightly.

_mg_2889Instead I found myself learning about the berries of the highly poisonous arum maculate (thank you Google) even before I noticed the abundance of fungi around me.

There are apparently 181 different types to be found in the area – I simply scratched the surface.  None looked particularly edible I’m pleased to say, because one of the species found here is the deathcap, supposedly used by Agrippina to poison her husband the emperor Claudius Caesar.  (Another memory of my youth seeing Derek Jacobi stutter and stumble his way through the sex and slaughter of 1st Century Rome).

The area is full of wildlife too, though that proved harder to capture.  Roe deer, otters and Daubenton’s bats remained in hiding, jumping fish, speedy wrens and erratic dragonflies eluded me too, leaving me with poor pickings.

Never mind, the flora were magnificent.  I only wish I knew what they were!_pw_7508-edit-edit



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