Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ilkley Moor Baht 'at

I finally made it, after 7 years of not really trying, up Ilkley Moor this week in the heat of Tuesday and probably unwisely without 'at. This is of course a well botanised site so I was not expecting to add much new to the plant list, and in this light I did quite well.

The first good find was a new stand of the non-native Silver Lady's-mantle (Alchemilla conjuncta), extending its range into a new tetrad.

Not a new location, but of interest to me was the enigma that is Cut-leaved Bramble (Rubus laciniatus). No one really knows this species origins, or whether it is native or endemic to Britain. It is certainly not native in Yorkshire, but in comparison with the thug that is Himalayan Giant (Rubus armeniacus), I am more than happy to welcome it.

By far the best find of the day, apologies in advance for the over-exposed photo I blame the low late season sun!, was a colony of Knotted Pearlwort (Sagina nodosa) along the the historic alignment of Keighley Road. From the data available to me, it does not appear to have been reported from the Moor for decades, so I am pleased to have refound it. The associated Eyebright (Euphrasia) is giving me headaches and is one for the BSBI referee.

To end with, here is the view from Addingham High Moor where the carpets of Heather (Calluna vulgaris) were at peak bloom. Scenic as it is, it is important not to forget what an impoverished habitat this is for native flora. Over a century of over-management for grouse does not leave room for much else, and it is not a very satisfying habitat for a botanist. That said, Ilkley Moor seems to be suffering the opposite effect i.e. a legacy of under-management resulting in an ever increasing dominance of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum). There must be a middle ground somewhere, but it is a challenge to find the most favourable balance in the modern world where traditional agriculture and land management is no longer economic.

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