Saturday, 17 March 2018

Botanical Loose Ends

Here's a rather lengthy round up of all the plants I've photographed last year and haven't gotten around to blogging yet. Many of them appeared on my Twitter account at the time but there are also quite a few that didn't. I think I'll list them in county order as that's how they are saved on my hard drive. I'll keep commentary to a minimum as there are lots to get through. I really must try much harder this year not to let things back up in this way. I may get some of my fungi photos on here one day as well, I have lots of them going back to 2015 now!


This parasitic Dodder was growing in chalk grassland at Broughton Down. I'd only ever seen this on Gorse before but here it was on Lady's Bedstraw.

Dodder - Cuscuta epithymum

This is the rare Green Hound's-tongue. We saw this in (I think) its only site in Hampshire, near Aldershot. The flowers are very similar to Hound's-tongue but the leaves are a much fresher green. We were a little early and most plants were only just starting to flower.

 Green Hound's-tongue - Cynoglossum germanicum

 Hoary Stock - Matthiola incana
This was the best flowering example I could find growing on the chalk cliffs at Bonchurch in the Isle of Wight. We were there looking at Glanville Fritillary and it wasn't the ideal time to see Hoary Stock in flower. Most of the plants had gone to seed but I'd never seen the flowers before so scrambled up a low cliff to get a shot of this 'fine specimen'.

Least Bur-reed - Sparganium natans
 Growing in a New Forest Pond

A lovely stand off Marsh Mallow on the coast at Lepe

Marsh Mallow - Althaea officinalis 

 Pond Water-crowfoot - Ranunculus peltatus
 In a New Forest Pond.

Rampion Bellflower is not a native plant but it is quite rare to find it naturalised. These plants are growing on a roadside verge near Sopley and have done so for many years. It was great to see them as we looked for them last year but they had been mowed off.

 Rampion Bellflower - Campanula rapunculus

Tasteless Water-pepper - Persicaria mitis

We tracked this plant down to a ford by a bridleway at Moortown near Ringwood and when we arrived there we were surprised to find a couple of botanists already photographing it. I can tell you that that doesn't happen very often!

Small Water-pepper - Persicaria minor
 In the New Forest and at Blashford Lakes we found ...

Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus angustissimus 


Round-headed Rampion - Phyteuma orbiculare
I couldn't resist taking a photo of this, the county flower of Sussex, whilst we were visiting to see the Queen of Spain Fritillary

This is Fly Honeysuckle which is arguably native at this site in Amberley, West Sussex where it has been recorded since 1801.

Fly Honeysuckle - Lonicera xylosteum


A visit to The Lizard in mid June was getting a bit late to see some of our target plants, namely Long-headed Clover and Twin-headed Clover, but was ideal for Thyme Broomrape, and the Thrift Clearwing our other main target species.

Most of the clovers were all dried up but we managed to find a few clumps of Long-headed Clover just about hanging on!

Long-headed Clover Trifolium incarnatum ssp. molinerii

 Scarlet Pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis
In an unusual and beautiful dusky pink.

 Andy spotted this diminutive plant whilst we were climbing over a low wall, I'd have probably walked right past it. Obviously one of the Pepperworts, on closer inspection it turned out to be Smith's Pepperwort. 

Smith's Pepperwort - Lepidium heterophyllum

Quite a few plants of Thyme Broomrape  were at their best and looking rather spectacular, although the scenery helps!

Thyme Broomrape - Orobanche alba


American Blue-eyed Grass - Sisyrinchium montanum
Always a joy to see at Dawlish Warren where it is naturalised.

In the scenic setting of a stagnant pool by a manure heap near Colyton, this is  Oak-leaved Goosefoot. Goosefoots can be difficult to identify but the oak shaped leaves on this one are quite distinctive.

Oak-leaved Goosefoot - Chenopodium glaucum

Irish Spurge just in the Devon side of Exmoor  

Irish Spurge - Euphorbia hyberna

A massive highlight on a local scale was seeing this Salsify on a roadside verge just down the road near Woodbury.

Salsify - Tragopogon porrifolius


Also on Exmoor but just in Somerset this time... 

Large-flowered Butterwort - Pinguicula grandiflora 

We've seen Somerset Skullcap in the Mells Valley a couple of times but never in flower, this time it was only just coming into flower. This is a garden escape which has been naturalised in this location for many years and acquired the name of Somerset Skullcap. In Europe it is known as Tall Skullcap.

Somerset Skullcap - Scutellaria altissima


Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus glaber 
Growing in a gateway on the outskirts of Studland Village.

Nettle-leaved Goosefoot - Chenopodium murale
Growing with other Goosefoots and Nettles on a massive manure heap at St. Aldhelm's Head. Although the leaves are clearly nettle-like this isn't enough to be positive on identification and I had to look at the seeds under a microscope to be sure.

Mudwort growing at Stanpit Marsh. The flowers are tiny but if you can get close enough to see them properly they are quite pretty too. Quite a challenge to photograph so I was very happy with these close ups.

Mudwort - Limosella aquatica

Toothed Medick - Medicago polymorpha
Growing on a wide roadside verge outside some houses on Portland. It has very distinctive toothed stipules. I didn't get very good photos of this so may try and get some better ones this year. 

 Also on Portland was this naturalised Hairy Bindweed which isn't really that hairy at all.
The flowers are amazing though because they really look like they have been painted, you can even see 'brush strokes'!

Hairy Bindweed - Calystegia pulchra

Hound's-tongue - Cynoglossum officinale
 Growing in large swathes on Ballard Down

Marsh Gentian - Gentiana pneumonanthe
Growing in a bog at Studland.
I absolutely love seeing these, one of my all time favourites! I like to visit them every year if I can.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Botanising in Scotland July 2017 Part 2: Cairngorm Northern Corries, Speyside, Rannoch Moor and Inchnadamph

A few more places we visited in July most notably one of the Northern Corries of Cairngorm but I'll leave the best 'til last.

Rannoch Moor

If you have read my blog post entitled Clearwings, you may recall that we had a puncture and consequently saw a Welsh Clearwing whilst driving along the shore of Loch Rannoch after a visit to Rannoch Moor. Well we were at Rannoch Moor to see the Rannoch Rush (which isn't a rush) growing at one of its only locations in the UK all of which are on Rannoch Moor. It's a vast area but the plants we were looking for were situated not that far from the road at Rannoch Station. We found good numbers but unfortunately they had just about finished flowering. Having said that I don't think they would look a lot better in flower than in fruit. We were hoping to find Small Cranberry hereabouts too but had no luck.

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Rush in fruit

Complete with a very strikingly coloured Common Frog.

Rannoch Rush - Scheuchzeria palustris

Bog Sedge - Carex limosa 
(I think)


We spent hours walking around in this area without too much to show for it. My wellies sprung a leak halfway across a river which was kind of an omen for the rest of the day really. We were looking on river gravels for Arctic Sandwort. It sometimes occurs in this habitat as its seed gets washed down from the hills in floods. We had no joy on the River Loanan and so instead followed the beautiful limestone valley of the Allt nan Uamh to the Bone Caves and beyond. We searched in vain in this area too. Arctic Sandwort is a small inconspicuous plant and would be extremely difficult to spot if not in flower. So it can't have been in flower obviously! That's my excuse. It wasn't a totally wasted day as we did see the 'stunning' Whortle-leaved Willow.

Whortle-leaved Willow - Salix myrsinites 

The scenery in the area is absolutely spectacular and the geology fascinating. 

 Dry river bed of the Allt nan Uamh.
Looking from the Bone Caves 


 Carpets of Intermediate Wintergreen at Garten Wood.

Intermediate Wintergreen - Pyrola media

Least Water-lily at Craigellachie NNR

Least Water-lily - Nuphar pumila 

Northern Corries: Coire an Sneachda 

Both of the Northern Corries, Coire an Sneachda and Coire an Lochan are superb sites for mountain flowers but we only had time to visit one. It was a difficult choice but in the end we decided on Coire an Sneachda as I had quite a few grid references for our target plants there. It is quite an easy walk from the Coire Cas car park compared to some others we had done, with no steep climbs until actually in the coire itself.  The weather was simply gorgeous, sunny and warm, with hardly a cloud in the sky. Not your typical Caingorm weather.

Coire an Sneachda.
If you look closely you might just make out the small path ascending below the crags and heading up towards the ridge. This is called the Goat Track and lots of fine mountain flowers can be seen by taking this route. 

Alpine Meadow-rue - Thalictrum alpinum

Starry Saxifrage - Saxifraga stellaris

Arctic Mouse-ear - Cerastium nigrescens

There were lots of clumps of this beautiful large flowered cerastium on the cliff faces, most too difficult to reach for a good photo. This one involved an arms length effort.

Northern Rock-cress Arabidopsis petraea


This is the rare Starwort Mouse-ear which grows high on mountains in areas of late snow lie which meant we were in the right area for one of our main target species which requires the same conditions but damper and shadier.

Starwort Mouse-ear - Cerastium cerastoides

This is that target species, Highland Saxifrage growing on the side of a dark wet gully. We thought we weren't going to find it as we were initially looking for the white flowers. I realised that if it were past flowering it was going to have to be identified by looking for the distinctive leaves and eventually I spotted them nestling amongst some moss,the flowers frustratingly looked as if they had only just gone over. A very rare plant though so great to find!

Highland Saxifrage - Saxifraga rivularis

Another species I'd been very eager to see was Alpine Speedwell,we'd seen a few tiny specimens on The Cairnwell but they were all in seed. I was expecting the plants here to be very small too but they weren't. They were much bigger than the Cairnwell ones (but still small) and they were plentiful too, the grassland below the crags was studded with small groups of the deep blue flowers. They were so much better than I'd expected.


Alpine Speedwell - Veronica alpina

A view from the Goat Track to the floor of the coire. Whilst we were sitting here having a rest and taking in the view a summer plumage male Snow Bunting flew onto some crags fairly near to us and gave superb views. I didn't have my good birding camera with me and had the settings all wrong on the one I did have but I had to get a few record shots of this magical moment. I knew that they breed up here but I didn't expect I'd see one! Best bird of the year by far!


Snow Bunting