Thursday, 27 June 2019

Ivy Broomrape - Another Huntingdonshire Site

Barry Dickerson has just found a new location for Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae) on Cambridge Street, St Neots. Based on the photo provided it seems well established. This is only the second record for the county, and it must surely be a deliberate introduction. This a species that is well known around Cambridge in VC29, but the nearest and only other VC31 record is from Godmanchester.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Patch Update

I've previously extolled the virtues of patch botanising. Carbon neutral, never failing to deliver something new or interesting, as well as being a chance to reconnect with 'old friends'.

So walking distance from home this weekend ... Well the big news is that Grass-poly (Lythrum hyssopifolia) is back and in bloom at Skelton Lake.

Dipping my toe into hawkweeds thanks to Vince Jones' excellent book (sadly out of print again, time for a braver print run Yorkshire Naturalists' Union?), I am happy with these two from Skelton Lake. The first is Anglian Hawkweed (Hieracium anglorum), which I first found a couple of years ago and misnamed as festinum, but I came to the conclusion that if the stellate hairs on the phyllaries were that difficult to find and required a microscope they were probably not numerous and I should probably try a different route through the key. A handsome plant when well grown. I found this species again on waste ground in Woodlesford.

Much more delicate in comparison, Southern Hawkweed (Hieracium argillaceum).

We are blessed locally with lots of Sweet-briar (Rosa rubiginosa), which fills the air with scent on a warm day.

But this beauty in Rothwell Country Park must surely be a candidate for Glaucous Dog-rose x Sweet-briar (Rosa vosagiaca x rubiginosa). The same scent, but with acicles patchily distributed and note those folded leaflets with a glaucous underside and red petioles.

Up next, two handsome garden escapes at Newsam Green. Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum 'Laciniatum Group') and a semi-double form of Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Sell and Murrell published names for some of the variants of the latter species but unfortunately plants like this, while commonly encountered, fall through the gaps.

At this location and down by the canal in Woodlesford, I found these dinky little plants of Field Pansy (Viola arvensis var. derelicta). I'm giving the Sell and Murrell classification a fair go. Its tempting to suggest these are underfed plants, but it wasn't overly bothering the Garden Pansy and Heartsease cultivars nearby. This variety is notable for its very small flowers on near erect pedicels and single unbranched vertical stem, almost like a little soldier standing to attention.

Then some interesting trees near the canal in Woodlesford. First this stunning form of Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus f. erythrocarpum). Like its purple-leaved cousin the best forms always seem to be planted, but it does occur spontaneously as well. I'm not sure of the origin of this tree, but its looking good.

Then Green Alder (Alnus viridis), and self-sown Red Alder (Alnus rubra).

And then another alder, but which one? This is a shrubby species with small leaves that left me scratching my head. I eventually came down on the North American form of Grey Alder (Alnus incana subsp. rugosa) that looks nothing like the tree from this side of the 'pond'. It seems quite variable across its range, as indicated by the number of varieties in Sell and Murrell, but I found enough images online to provide confidence that my ID was likely to be correct (unless anyone knows better?).

Not a bad haul for the price of a bit of shoe leather. Lets end with the handsome bramble Rubus x pseudoidaeus which is frequent hereabouts but annoyingly not crossing the river into my VC!

Monday, 3 June 2019

Honeywort New to VC64

News just in from Howard Beck of the finding of Honeywort (Cerinthe major) on the road verge of Neps Lane at Newsholme. This species is widely grown in gardens as the cultivar 'Purpurascens'. This appears to be the first record for Mid-West Yorkshire. The following photographs were taken by Howard.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Small-flowered Buttercup New to VC64

This had to be the highlight of last weekend. Nothing better than walking my well trodden route from Woodlesford to Temple Newsam and back only to spot something completely unexpected. Surprisingly, this is the first record of Small-flowered Buttercup (Ranunculus parviflorus) for VC64, even acknowledging this is mainly a southern species. Even more surprising, based on the BSBI database (a great resource if you want a species list or distribution map), this seems to be just the second record for the whole of the historic West Riding (a vast chunk of Yorkshire) and the first since at least 1870.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Stylish Shrubs

Spring is nearly here so time to get back into this blogging lark. As a warm-up for me, I am going to start with a random assortment of attractive and/or quirky shrubs found over the last month or so in VC64.

Starting with a native, I can't really beat Howard Beck's find and photos of Mezereon (Daphne mezereum) near Selside.

Also from Howard was this unusual form of Yew (Taxus baccata Argentea Group) at Holden. The fastigiate form is common in churchyards, and sometimes you find the golden form, but I have not seen this cultivar before. Hopefully it will survive and grow into a fine tree.

Keeping with the variegated theme, but with added spines, was this curious Holly I found at Ilkley - Ilex aquifolium 'Ferox Argentea'. It appears to be a bird sown occurrence, as the location suggests a planted origin is unlikely.

Next a climber, this is the third most common ivy in VC64, rivalled for distribution only by Hedera helix f. helix and Hedera hibernica Hibernica Group. This is Hedera helix f. pedata (deliberately avoiding use of 'Pedata' given all the wild occurrences are bird sown and therefore not the true garden selection) which I found in two locations around Ilkley, one in Heber's Ghyll and one near Cow and Calf. Photos of both in that order.

Finally, the attractive red buds of Darwin's Barberry (Berberis darwinii) from The Tarn, Ilkley Moor.