Monday, 2 May 2016

Little Mouse-ear Rediscovered

This weekend has been a traditional May Day affair, i.e. cool, squally, overcast and generally not encouraging of explorations far from home. So I stuck to a brief walk on my local patch, but in the event that proved more productive than I could have hoped. I wandered down to the Aire & Calder Navigation below Rothwell Country Park (VC63) and up onto an area that was historically the railway for Rothwell Colliery but is now short grassland over a free-draining substrate of clinker. Just the sort of place where you think winter annuals, and then get down on your hands and knees (or near as) to see what you can find.

It is classic habitat for Little Mouse-ear (Cerastium semidecandrum), a species I had looked for here in a previous year with no success. So I was pleasantly surprised to find numerous plants. This is a very rare species in West Yorkshire and the last record for this hectad (the Wakefield hectad SE32) appears to have been before 1888. It is so rare that the Flora of West Yorkshire (prematurely as it later turned out) declared it extinct, with this hectad being the only known historic location.

Photo by Hermann Schachner as published on Wikimedia Commons

I am in no doubt that part of the reason it seems so rare is that it flowers early and then dies off, and also because it can by very tiny. Below is a typically plant from my location shown against a 1 pence coin. This plant was flowering and fruiting.

No comments:

Post a Comment