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Natural Umbrellas – the Umbrella Bird, Umbrella Sedge and Umbrella Tree
Mother Nature's Umbrellas
We all use umbrellas to keep the rain off but Mother Nature has a bird and a plant and a tree that all get their names because of their likeness in some way to this handy accessory for protecting us from the weather.
There is an Umbrella Bird, an Umbrella Sedge and the Australian Umbrella Tree. Not only are there those examples but there are also many mushroom species that look like little umbrellas. There is the aptly named Parasol Mushroom for starters!
There are three species of Umbrellabird in the genus Cephalopterus. They get their name because of the unusual crests the birds have. The male Umbrellabirds have larger crests.
Umbrellabirds live in the rainforests of Central and South America where they feed on fruit, insects and small animal such as lizards. They are mainly black in colour and have inflatable wattles hanging from their necks which the male birds use to amplify the sound of their calls. The males assemble together and inflate their wattles in a display to attract females of their species.
The three types of Umbrellabird are the Amazonian Umbrellabird (C. ornatus), the Long-wattled Umbrellabird (C. penduliger) and the Bare-necked Umbrellabird (C. glabricollis).
The (Cyperus alternifolius) is also known as the Umbrella Palm and Umbrella Papyrus. It is an attractive plant that is often grown as a houseplant or in gardens for its ornamental value. It likes a very damp habitat and is often planted at the edges of ponds and in water gardens. Umbrella Sedge
The Umbrella Sedge gets its name from the way the grass-like leaves spread out in a rosette at the top of the plant’s stems. These rosettes, by the way, can be removed and used to propagate the plant very easily. Leave a little bit of stalk beneath each one and let them stand in water. Roots are soon produced and the new Umbrella Sedges can be planted elsewhere.
Australian Umbrella Tree
The Australian Umbrella Tree
The Australian Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is a very striking tree that comes as its name suggests from Australia where it is found in the rainforests of Queensland but it also is to be found in Java and New Guinea.
The Australian Umbrella Tree gets its name from its evergreen leaves that are carried in groups that look like umbrellas. It has spikes of dark reddish flowers that are produced at the top of the tree and are carried in groups that stick up into the air above at the top of the parent trees. It is also known as the Octopus Tree.
The Australian Umbrella Tree sometimes grows as an epiphyte in the trunks of palms and other species of tree. It is commonly grown for its ornamental qualities in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world.
Many species of mushroom and toadstool look very like parasols or umbrellas and one large species is known as the Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera). It is edible and delicious and often found growing in fields and at the edges of woods. It can reach as much as seven inches across a fully expanded cap which is carried at the top of a tall stalk and looks very like a parasol.
Parasol Mushrooms are usually found between July and November and grow in the UK and Europe and are a very popular edible wild mushroom that gets collected. They are prepared by removing the stems and then frying the caps in oil or butter. Richard Mabey gives them a Class A status in his classic book for foragers . Food For Free