Hearts in the botanical world

Love is all around.... or at least Hearts are all around the shops at this time of year - but hearts can be found in abundance in the natural world all year round.

This week's National Trust Challenge on Instagram was to capture images of hearts in the natural world. Go have a look - #NTChallenge

 Heart shaped hole nibbled in a bramble leaflet

Heart shaped hole nibbled in a bramble leaflet

I spent a chilly hour meandering around my local National Trust property Morden Hall Park and my time was consumed by peering at tree bark, squinting at the clouds, gazing in icy puddles and scrabbling around in the vegetation. It undoubtedly made me stop and look closer at my surroundings than I ever normally do.

 Muddy stone heart

Muddy stone heart

As a botanist, I was unsurprisingly drawn to leaves more often than anything else.

Composite_hearts.jpg

Are you ready for a bit of botany?
The word botanists use to describe this shape of leaf is cordate.

Cordate, 1. (of the base of a leaf)
deeply notched so the whole base has a slight heart-shape;
2. sometimes used for the shape of the whole leaf, which is then ovate with a notched base and an acute apex
— The Kew Plant Glossary (2010) Beenje, H & Williamson, J
 The Kew Plant Glossary, an illustrated dictionary of plant terms by Henk Beentje and Juliet Williamson.  I love this book.

The Kew Plant Glossary, an illustrated dictionary of plant terms by Henk Beentje and Juliet Williamson. 
I love this book.

A treasure hunt for different shapes in nature is a great way to get you looking more carefully at the world around you, not just for children!

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
— Albert Einstein