Monday, 13 August 2018

Spotted Spurge New for VC31

Its good to have some news from Huntingdonshire. Alan Leslie sends details of Spotted Spurge (Euphorbia maculata) found growing in the corner of the car park at Waresley garden centre in the far south of the county. This is a species that seems to be on the spread, particularly in urban habitats. One to look out for over coming years.

The following photograph, showing the plant in typical habitat, is by Stefan Lefnaer as published on Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Draw of Drawdown

Mike Wilcox sent me interesting news this week that left with me with mixed feelings. He had popped over to Skelton Lake, part of my local patch, and found Mudwort (Limosella aquatica) - a cracking find and the first for the Aire Valley (at least in living memory if not all time). I was pleased because I had been expecting and hoping that this species would turn up, tempered by annoyance that if my weekend walk had taken a slightly different route then I would have got it first!

So naturally I went for a look this weekend and to take a few pictures. In so doing, I was able to extend it even further into the VC64 part of the lake.

Mudwort habitat

This really has been an exceptional year at this site, with water levels dropping consistently over the summer. In recent years rain in summer has re-filled the lake, putting an end to the drawdown season before it had fully got going. The Mudwort has joined the other recent cracking finds of Grass-poly (Lythrum hyssopifolium) and Golden Dock (Rumex maritimus).

A range of other species were putting on a good show. Including this really robust Persicaria. I really wanted this to be something different, it is so striking with its spotted robust stem, distinct nodes, multiple stems arising straight from the root stock and decumbent at the base, and sub-glabrous leaves. But I had to face facts, it was just a form of "Pink" Persicaria (Persicaria lapathifolium subsp. lapathifolium - in my view the circumscription of this in Flora Nordica seems more usable than the more recent one in Sell & Murrell, which under-describes the diversity of the two subspecies). Normally a plant this distinct and forming a distinct population would merit a name (of whatever rank), but the trouble with the Persicaria's is that they are autogamous, throwing up new variants which then breed true. Perhaps if its more widespread ... let me know if you've seen it elsewhere.

It was also nice to see the "Intermediate" Plantain (Plantago major subsp. intermedia), making its 2018 appearance on the strandline.

Unexpected, and again first seen by Mike, was this sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

All this, without mentioning the knotgrasses. That's a subject for another day, but as a taster, Polygonum microspermum. A delightfully dinky species with blue-tinged foliage and tiny flowers. Seems quite a reasonable split to me, especially when seen growing in the 100's.

Monday, 30 July 2018


The Spatterdock (Nuphar advena) at the pond on the edge of Oulton Park (VC63), seems to have enjoyed the heat this year. I don't think I have ever seen it quite so luxuriant. Not a common plant but worth looking out for elsewhere, along with other aquatics as they start to come into their own.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Sinacalia tangutica

After some time out there is a lot of news to catch-up on, so I'm going to try and post a few snippets over coming days as time allows.

First up was this intriguing find from Town Beck in Addingham. It had me stumped, but the final verdict was Chinese Ragwort (Sinacalia tangutica), thanks to Clive Stace via Mike Wilcox. A new one on me. I found 3 plants scattered mid-channel. Mike Wilcox went for a look and found a few more heading upstream, and also some larger clumps further downstream towards Low Mill Village. Somewhere upstream there must be a garden with the parent plant.

Saturday, 16 June 2018


I was out taking one of my regular routes around my home patch, and found this little chap on the drawdown of Skelton Lake.

Ok so the photo can only be described politely as a 'record shot', but what a surprise to find Grass-poly (Lythrum hyssopifolia). As per usual whenever I make a good find, it was outside my VC and just inside VC63. But I'm not complaining, a species I had only seen once before and then only because I was shown it, and a completely new location for this rare and unpredictable species. This seems to be the first record for VC63 since 1923. I hope the geese leave it alone so it gets to set lots of seed for next year.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ilkley to Addingham Moorside

My trip over to Ilkley (VC64) at the weekend proved more eventful than I could have hoped. First slipping off a boulder and falling backwards into the beck at Heber's Ghyll and then, after salvaging my notebook from the water, regaining my composure and checking for broken bones, finding a particularly nice bramble in the wood.

Following advice from David Earl this seems to be Thornless Blackberry (Rubus canadensis), a native of North America. It has impressively tall, and typically biennial, arching canes with no prickles. In this case the flowers were particularly large and impressive, and from a distance I thought I was approaching a bush of Mock-orange (Philadelphus sp.) as it was so showy. This is the first record for VC64, and also seems to be the first for Yorkshire.

In a wooded ghyll in Ilkley proper there was a small colony of this enormous Lord's and Ladies. A problem for another day but looking too big to be Italian Lord's and Ladies (Arum italicum) proper, despite the veining on the leaves. For scale, the OS map in the photo is approximately 22cm tall.

At the Old Bridge it was nice to finally see the thriving Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) colony in flower. I had not appreciated that there was a mix of pink and white flowered plants here. Photo of the latter (var. albus) below.

Elsewhere as a street weed was a double-flowered (technically semi-double so fertile) form of Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis cambrica 'Flore Pleno') that I had read about but never seen before, despite the abundance of this species as a naturalised plant in the VC. Terrible photo but you get the idea.

In Panorama Woods there is an abundance of Persian Ivy (Hedera colchica). It is well known here but I don't think anyone before has noted this as being the original introduced form i.e. var. dentata or 'Dentata' (depending on preference). Note the small teeth on the leaf margins.

Over at Addingham Moorside I stumbled over some nice mire and species-rich grassland communities. Some of the highlights included Bulbous Rush (Juncus bulbosus subsp. kochii), Creeping Forget-me-not (Myosotis secunda) and (Pedicularis sylvatica subsp. sylvatica).

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Sunday Surprises

My best find of this weekend was strictly speaking a Saturday Surprise, but the iPhone was rubbish at taking pictures so I had to go back again today. I found a nice stand of Bithynian Vetch (Vicia bithynica) in flower at the edge of St Aidan's not far from Caroline Bridge. Unfortunately it was in VC63, but you can't have everything! This is the first time I have seen this species in this area since 2012, and then I only got to see it in fruit. I am surprised that it flowers so early, its almost over for the year.

Just as interesting really, and definitely found today, was Wall Bedstraw (Galium parisiense) elsewhere in St Aidan's (VC63). I had hoped this would turn up eventually as conditions look great for it. It is a species that seems to be on the increase with records elsewhere in West Yorkshire in recent years, as well as a stronghold in the Scunthorpe area. No photo though, as yet to flower.

Down by the river near Lowther Lake (VC64) I came across a large and distinctive hogweed with hairy petioles. This is the hybrid between the native plant (Heracleum sphondylium) and Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum sens. lat.). Satisfyingly intermediate. As can be seen, I struggled to get the leaf in frame due to its size (that and restricted scope for movement given care was needed not to tangle with any of the surrounding Giant Hogweed).

Heading on to The Lines in Great Preston (VC64), I found a large sprawl of Himalayan Clematis (Clematis montana).  I was surprised later to discover that this was the first VC record.

Elsewhere in the village the pavement cracks were full of the diminutive variety of Fringed Pearlwort (Sagina filicaulis var. minor). This is proving widespread, and extending the season for this species in my eyes. As stated in a previous post, this is a species I more typically expect in summer when it is apparent as a more robust form.

Ending what proved a productive walk was a bush of Large-sepalled Hawthorn (Crataegus rhipidophylla) near Fleakingley Bridge (VC64) that I had not noticed previously. Not as common as its hybrid, but still widespread in the local area. An odd flower (out of 10's checked) had 2 stigmas rather than just one, but apparently this is not unknown for this species so I had to rapidly discount any thoughts this might be the hybrid with Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata).