Thursday, 16 August 2012

Christmas card competition... closing now!

With a grand total of 24 entries (unless more come in tonight) I am now closing the competition. Please comment on the entries and suggest which one you think should win. The judges' decision will be final but they will try to take into account any views expressed...

Please have a look at the entries here. 

Hunting for bog orchids...

On Monday a few of us visited part of the Cadair Idris SSSI, partly in order to search for Hammarbya paludosa, bog orchid. This hasn't been recorded since 1975, and was not numerous then. However, it is a very small and inconspicuous plant, flowering fairly late in the season, and so it is probably easily overlooked. 

Hunting around a flush for Hammarbya
We were not successful in our search, although we did carry out some useful recording in an interesting site. One flush which appeared fairly base-rich included species such as Selaginella selaginoides, Briza media and Crepis paludosa. 

Crepis paludosa, marsh hawk's-beard, in fruit.
As Hammarbya is quite possibly under-recorded we would welcome any recent records - and perhaps it is a good excuse to visit some interesting areas. It is said to grow on Sphagnum and amongst grasses and on peaty edges of streams and runnels in the uplands. Curiously, it is the only orchid in Britain where the flowers are "upside down" - with the lips at the top. It is only a few centimetres high and greenish, so would reward careful hunting (excessive trampling is thought to encourage the bulbils to pop out of the ground).

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Top Ten Families

On Saturday we had a BSBI training meeting which was a first for me - an introduction to the Top Ten Families of wild flowers in Britain.

We had a mixture of attendees including BSBI members, those considering BSBI membership, and local people - some relative beginners while others were wanting to polish up their skills. The venue was the Rhydymwyn Valley Nature Reserve, where we were fortunate enough to be assisted by Joe Phillips and Noreen who are both regular volunteers at the site and were able to escort us round the Reserve.

Members of the course with a range of plant specimens.
The idea behind the course is that within the British flora many of the most common plants belong to a relatively small number of families. By taking the time to examine members of these families in more detail you can become more familiar with them and hopefully for a wide range of plants get to the right section of the book more quickly. Of course, one day is not really long enough but hopefully it was useful.

For anyone that was wondering, the Top Ten Families (for this purpose) are:
Buttercup, Campion, Cabbage, Rose, Pea, Carrot, Deadnettle, Figwort, Daisy, Lily
or if you prefer the more formal names
Ranunculaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Brassicaceae, Rosaceae, Fabaceae, Apiaceae, Lamiaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Asteraceae, Liliaceae.

I think there is plenty of room for debate about whether they are really the Top Ten but there are good reasons for choosing them...

Photo competition - last call!

All has been a little quiet and I have neglected to round up the Christmas Card competition. As I will be off to Ireland on Friday (first for the Irish BSBI AGM and then for a holiday) I will allow one more day (I believe there may be one or two people who haven't sent me anything yet) and so before I leave I will post up the final entry list and then I will need opinions on which should be the winner.

Do have a look at the entries we've received so far and if you have some lovely (perhaps seasonal?) photographs lurking in your files why not send me one or two - anyone can enter, you don't even have to be a BSBI member!