Thursday, 22 October 2015

South Devon Botanising

Back in July and August we took a few trips to South Devon looking for three or four rare plants in particular. First we went to Plymouth Waterfront to see Field Eryngo a rare plant in the UK which has been growing wild in the Plymouth area for several hundred years.

Sign illustrating the interesting flora of the waterfront. We saw the Plymouth Campion too, although it was in seed, but didn't have any luck with the Plymouth Thistle ( one to try for again next year perhaps)

Field Eryngo - Eryngium campestre

A few other plants photographed in the area which aren't rare at all were...

Black Nightshade - Solanum nigrum

 Pellitory-of-the-wall - Parietaria officinalis

White Stonecrop - Sedum album

Then on to Slapton Lee famously Britain's only site for Strapwort. It's a tiny insignificant looking plant and very hard to spot until you 'get your eye in' but close up the flowers are quite pretty really.

That's it, there! Sprawling around in the centre of the photo.

Strapwort - Corrigiola litoralis

Common water-crowfoot - Ranunculus aquatilis

Keeled Skimmer - Orthetrum coerulescens

Then in early August a trip to Dartmoor to look for the rare Flax-leaved St John's wort which is a fussy plant and has very particular habitat requirements, explaining its rarity and limited range. It needs plenty of space with few other competitive plants nearby, and acidic soils in warm areas. Steep rocky slopes exposed to the sun are ideal and there are quite a few sites like this on Dartmoor. The one we visited was near Castle Drogo.

The plant was growing on the tops of the rocky outcrop in this photo which was south facing and very warm and was a magnet for butterflies especially Wall Browns.

Wall Brown - Lasiommata megera

Closer view of the habitat. With Flax-leaved St John's wort plants in the left foreground.

On a background of Map Lichen - Rhizocarpon geographicum

Flax-leaved St John's wort - Hypericum linariifolium

 The warm bare rocks and thin soils were also ideal for this lovely little plant 

Sand Spurrey - Spergularia rubra

Then in late August a trip to Warleigh Point near Plymouth to see another rare Hypericum, this time Wavy-leaved St John's Wort a plant which favours damp waterlogged locations and is only found in Cornwall, and a couple of places in Devon and South Wales.

The wavy leaves unique to this species of St John's wort.

Wavy-leaved St John's Wort - Hypericum undulatum

And finally a local find was this striking white form of Herb Robert in Shute Woods.

Herb Robert - Geranium robertianum


Andrew Cunningham said...

Very nice and I am a bit gripped. A few plants there on my 'hit list' that I didn't get round to this year. The trouble with plants is they do not fly off so I always think "I'll see it next year". Maybe 2016 will be the year I do it for Field Eryngo especially.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks for commenting Andrew. The field eryngo is definitely worth it and easy to see too. I'd been putting it off as well.