There are many reasons for visiting St James’s Church on London’s Piccadilly, but one is to see the magnificent magnolia tree which has just bloomed in the churchyard.
Magnolia is an ancient genus which evolved before bees appeared, so the flowers are pollinated by beetles. They produce no nectar but plenty of pollen. The pollen is high in protein and the beetles use it for food.
The flowers are great, vigorous, rubbery things of a delicate pink. The tree towers over Piccadilly on that desolate, de-natured, stretch between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park. As tourists, office workers, hedge fund managers and their armies of servants, rush about, the magnolia nods gently over their heads, beetles busy in the flowers.
I took these pictures yesterday evening on a camera-phone without a flash.