Thursday, 23 March 2017

Viola riviniana subsp. minor

Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) is a familiar plant of woodland and hedge banks. It is normally of lanky appearance, with elongated flowering shoots. I found an extensive colony of this species today in North Lincolnshire, in open acid grassland and in a guise I was not anticipating. This was not helped by the botanical parts of my brain which are still groggy from a winter of under-use.

This dwarf form was well known to Victorian botanists but has fallen by the wayside in recent years, and goes by the name of subspecies minor (or sometimes var. minor). Whether it would stand close scrunity in cultivation trials is another matter, but based on the field evidence it merits re-evaluation and recording. Those like me who still value their copy of Keble-Martin's Concise British Flora will find it illustrated and some descriptive notes on its identification.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Flowering Currants

Nothing beats, as far as I am concerned, the early spring exuberance of Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum). My childhood memories are not just of the colour and the scent, but also the buzz of countless bumblebees attracted to this bountiful nectar source. In Yorkshire the latter seems to be reduced, presumably because the cooler climate means that the flowers are too early to coincide with the first brood of worker bees.

It is not a native plant but is commonly naturalised in VC64. In VC31 it is rare and usually of planted origin. Everyone knows the standard red flowered form, but there are other cultivars with flowers of different shades. In West Yorkshire (VC63 and 64), a pale pink form is commonly encountered and given its predominance around Woodlesford clearly breeds true. The name 'Pallescens' seems to cover this plant.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Shoal of Minnows

See the daffodils springing into bloom reminded me of some photographs sent by Bruce Brown a few weeks back. He has known a stand of vegetative non-native daffodils at Grass Wood (VC64) for a number of years, but was finally able to grow an offset to flowering in 2016.

Setting aside (the desire to rant about!) the need of certain sectors of society to introduce non-native bulbs into native wild habitats, this is certainly an interesting find. It is clearly a member of the tazetta group and appears to match the cultivar 'Minnow', a popular cultivar registered in the early 1960's.

The origins of 'Minnow' are obscure but the Daffodil Register suggests that it is a backcross to N. tazetta from an earlier cross of cultivars that may have involved N. poeticus in the parentage. Perhaps involving parents similar to 'Canaliculatus' (probably a form of tazetta subsp. tazetta) and 'Poetaz' (tazetta x ?poeticus), between which it seems intermediate. If true it has a similar but more complex origin to Primrose-peerless (Narcissus x medioluteus), but this name as currently used has a rather narrow concept. Whatever the origin it is a charming little daffodil.