24 Jun 2015

Alum works and a hemi-parasitic plant.

A clifftop walk past Kettleness, with views over the remains of the alum works towards Runswick:
The conical heap in the foreground is probably the remains of a pyre that was not burned before the works closed; the first part of alum manufacture involved quarrying the alum-rich shale (which also contained an amount of oil) in alternating layers of brushwood, setting it afire and letting it smoulder for months. Many of the steeping pits and buildings have gone over the edge of the eroding cliff:

You can see the remains of walls, and the semicircle to the right of the gulls is the remains of a cistern. The fields along the clifftop walk were bordered by yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor):
Yellow rattle lives as a hemi-parasite) on grass and crops, its root tap into the grass and wheat roots and suck the water and nutrients out that the other plants have collected. It's a hemi-parasite because it retains it's own ability to photosythesize. Hemi-parasites (a group which include mistletoe) have evolved a specialized root (the haustorium) that taps into the victim's circulatory system.

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