Field season kick-off

Hallerbos - 7

Allium ursinum, wild garlic

Last week, we celebrated the kick-off of 2018s field season, and as usual we did that with a student field trip to the Hallerbos, the world-famous purple forest that gets filled with bluebells in spring.

Hallerbos - 12

The Hallerbos, close to Brussels, Belgium, on an unfortunately cloudy day

We like to take the students of the course on ‘Ecosystem Types’ to this forest. Not just for its international fame, but more importantly for the clear differences in forest types that we find there. The loamy top soil layer has been eroded, revealing sandy hill tops, and accumulating rich loam in the valleys.

Hallerbos - 10

Pre-flowering Convallaria majalis, a typical species for drier forests

This geological history results in clear gradients in soil nutrients and moisture on a scale of often just a few meters, with massive effects on the vegetation. And as I love how the microscale affects species occurrence, this is a great example to show the students.

Hallerbos - 1

Hyacinthoides non-scripta, the famous bluebells

Hallerbos - 14

Where the nutrient rich forests of the valleys slowly start creeping uphill, we can find wild garlic and bluebells growing together

So we kick it off in spring with the spring flora that is so typical for Western European forests. Then slowly, over the next months, we will be moving our attention up north again, ending in northern Scandinavia in July. As usual: exciting times ahead!

Hallerbos - 3

Delicate flowers of Allium ursinum

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