Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Impatiens noli-tangere

The last 8 days I have been out surveying in the northern half of Wales. Have visited all the sites for Impatiens noli-tangere (Touch-me-not Balsam). One site there must have been in the region of 100,000 plants. It grew here for well over 1km along a river and along woodland rides. Other sites were much smaller. Only one site couldn't be located, this was in Denbighshire. Another site in Merionethshire looks like it's bigger cousin Himalayan Balsam will soon swamp it out.

My first visit to Flintshire

 Had a great day out with Emily Meilleur in Flintshire on Monday. We updated a number of the species in the Rare Plant Register for the county. At Llyn Helyg (above) Emily and I found Pillwort (below) in extremely large number. Also several small patches of Eleocharis acicularis (Needle spike-rush). Crassula helmsii (New Zealand Pigmyweed) was doing very well in places. Fringed Water-lily also formed several large yellow patches in the lake.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Centaurea debeauxii

 Today I took a visit to Dyffryn Gardens west of Cardiff. The woodland walk had many open grassy areas. One of the common plants was Centaurea debeauxii (Chalk Knapweed).
 Many of the plants had rayed florets.
 Showing each phyllary lanceolate in shape
A large population. Chalk Knapweed seems common in many parts of South Wales

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Telekia speciosa at Llanelwedd

 Yesterday I took a visit to a quarry at Llanelwedd to survey Epilobium lanceolatum (Spear-leaved Willowherb) which I found in large numbers. None of my photos are good enough to put here. To my surprise I came across a stand of Telekia speciosa (Yellow Oxeye). If the information I have is correct this is the second record for Wales and the first for over 80 years. Telekia can easy be confused with Inula helenium (Elecampane), both grow up to 2m tall and both have similar leaves and flowers. Telekia is far more common in gardens these days than the Inula.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Last minute brambles place?

The brambles/ Rubus workshop is planned for next weekend (25th-27th July) at Rhyd-y-Creuau near Betws-y-Coed. The programme is looking really good, and if the dandelion/ Taraxacum workshop in April is anything to go by it will be very enjoyable.

I'm just posting here on the off-chance that there may be someone out there hoping for a last-minute place, as one of the participants has had to drop out, and so there is a spare single-occupancy bedroom available for the first person to email.

Unfortunately this coincides with the start of my maternity leave, so in my absence, if you are interested please contact Sarah Stille (an email address for Sarah is available on her county webpage as I don't want to put it in more places).

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Black Mountains

 Had a great day out at Tarren yr Esgob in the Black Mountains with the Monmouthshire and Brecon Plant Groups. 23 members attended. Didn't find the species I had hoped to survey, but did see some good fern species. A Grey Squirrel (above) seemed very surprised to see us.
There was lots of beech fern and a good number of patches of limestone fern (above)

 For me the best fern of the day was oak fern (above and below) as it is the first I have seen this year and we only found the one patch (in Monmouthshire)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Looking for Wood Stitchwort along the River Wye

Yesterday I went surveying Wood Stitchwort along the River Wye in Monmouthshire. This site is as close to the English border as you can get, only the bed of a dried stream separates the two countries. The Wood Stitchwort was on the Welsh bank of this stream, only five plants were found.  
Many fields along the River Wye were blue, these were fields of borage, not a crop I have come across in the UK before.

Fig-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium ficifolium) was one of the weeds of the borage fields.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Campanula cocheariifolia - Fairy's-thimble

Stopped to take a look at a white plant growing on a garden wall at Defynnog. At first I thought it was going to be Harebell, but soon changed my mind. With the help of 'Stace' and the internet I ID my plant as Fairy's-thimble. The Fairies must have large fingers! This is a new alien species to me. Creeping along all the joints in the wall. All the plants had white flowers, apart from one clump which had blue.

Beech Fern along Afon Merchon, Cilycwm

I walked along the Afon Merchon today in search of Crepis paludosa (Marsh Hawk'-beard), but without success. There were several waterfalls, the one above had Beech Fern to the left of the fall.
Above Beech Fern

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Berthlwyd Farm, Ystradfellte, VC42, BSBI Field meeting Saturday 12th July

If you would like to book onto this BSBI meeting it is still not to late to contact the leader John Crellin. Detail below.
A joint meeting with the BSBI and Brecknock Wildlife Trust. Steph Coates (Conservation Officer at the Wildlife Trust) and John Crellin (Joint BSBI Vice-county recorder for VC42) are leading the meeting on Saturday 12th July to record as many species as they can at and around the site. The farm is a National Trust property and Beth Heasman will be with them from the Trust.
They aim to start at the farm at 10.30 am for a full day’s exploration of the varied habitats which will include the gorge of the Nedd, meadows and marshy pasture. Lunch will be taken at a small area of limestone pavement within the farm. You should be able to go down into the Nedd gorge to explore it from below as well as following the cliff top for a while where the trees growing in the rock may be appreciated. The climb down to the gorge needs care but is safe. Suitable footwear for the varied terrain is essential.
There is plenty of space for parking at the farm, SN913132, but, if you would rather park in the car park at Ystradfellte then we can arrange to pick you up from there at 9.45. (Please let John Crellin know if you wish to do this.) Steph Coates can arrange car sharing from Brecon if that would help you. Ystradfellte can be reached from Glyn-neath / Pontneddfechan off the A465 Swansea – Merthyr road or from the north via the A470 from Brecon turning right onto the A4215 (sign for Defynnog) and following signs for Ystradfellte. The turning for the Nedd valley and the farm is about a mile south of Ystradfellte on the road to / from Pontneddfechan. (The sign says “Nedd Valley Single”.)
They aim to finish at about 4.00 pm and Steph Coates and John Crellin wondered if others might like to meet afterwards at the New Inn in Ystradfellte ( where Cream Teas are apparently on offer – or even for a meal. Please John Crellin know if you would be interested and John will phone the pub to check what is available and book if necessary.
John Crellin
Joint BSBI Recorder for Vice County 42, Brecknockshire
Hay on Wye
01497821116 Mob: 07882 814758

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Cream coloured bush vetch

Last year I found this cream coloured (not white) Bush Vetch at Malpas in Monmouthshire and since have seen it in Co. Wexford in Ireland. The flowers start off cream and turn a pale orange with age. I came across a photo in 'The Wild Plants of Bere, Dursey, Whiddy and other Islands in Bantry Bay' (2013), John Akeroyd. In this booked it has a name Vicia sepium var. ochroleuca Bast. I would be very interested if anybody else has seen this colour form in Wales.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Wood Stitchwort Stellaria nemorum on the bank of the Afon Gwydderig, W of Sennybridge

Wood Stitchwort can be very hard to spot amongst the other vegetation. Has leaves are like chickweed and flowers like lesser stitchwort.

A general view of a patch of the wood stitchwort above. There were as many as a 100 stems.
Habitat of the Wood Stitchwort, growing on the right side of the river amongst the other tall vegetation.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Can you help ID this Dianthus

This Dianthus was found on the Pembrokeshire coast at Manorbier, SS059973 on the 24 June by Ian Carle. I am not sure what it is, but was wondering if it could be D. barbatus (Sweet-William).

Friday, 27 June 2014

Yellow-flowered Strawberry at St Hilary

I popped out to St Hilary, Glamorgan today for a walk. There were many garden escapes established about the village including Potentilla indica (Yellow-flowered Strawberry). There were two large patches, most had finished flowering, plenty of red strawberries around. A very disappointing fruit as they are tasteless.

Out with the Brecknock Botany Group at Cae Bryntywarch

Our aim for the day yesterday was to find Small-white Orchid, but like Polly we had no luck. We had hoped to find Globeflower also, again no luck. Heath-spotted Orchids (above) were very common on the reserve. There were many other good species on the site including Carex montana which for some reason seemed to be one of the few species on the reserve that is doing well.

Mike Porter gave us lessons on how to ID Rosa caesia subsp. vosagiaca (Glaucous Dog-rose) a species I have not recorded myself before. Hopefully I can now go out in the field and find it for myself.

Vicia orobus (Wood Bitter-vetch) was doing very well on the reserve, there were a few plants still flowering (above), most clumps were full of pods (below).

More orchid hunting - in Merionethshire and Denbighshire

Gymnadenia conopsea - chalk fragrant-orchid
The hunt for Pseudorchis albida (the small-white orchid) continued this week. On Tuesday Jay and I joined Sarah and Annie in a lovely site west of Bala, where Pseudorchis had been seen and photographed in only 2009. We spent a lot of time trying to line up the photograph and find the same spot, but no success on this hot day.

Pure white Dactylorhiza fuchsii - common spotted-orchid

So on Wednesday I went to another site in Denbighshire where there was an old record (no photographs) and with a large group of Denbighshire volunteers we split up and had a good search of the site. Once again, no Pseudorchis. However, on this occasion the orchid count was good (and I remembered my camera) so we had Gymnadenia conopsea (chalk fragrant orchid); Coeloglossum viride (frog orchid); Dactylorhiza fuchsii (common-spotted orchid); Dactylorhiza purpurella (northern marsh-orchid) and Neottia ovata (common twayblade). As well as the typical small plants of Coeloglossum there were some huge and leafy ones in the shade -has anyone else seen it this large? From a distance it looked like  an  Epipactis (helleborine) but close-up it was clearly still Coeloglossum.

Typical small Coeloglossum viride - frog orchid
Large and leafy Coeloglossum growing in shade

AGM in Tintern - extra! (BSBI - the next generation)

Paul has been quicker than I at getting some pictures up. I thought I would add one from last Thursday showing what we hope is the next generation of the BSBI - two much younger than average members on the Newport Wetlands field meeting.
Young participants in a BSBI field meeting

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Lemna valdiviana

Lemna valdiviana - photo taken by John Crellin at the BSBI Welsh AGM walk at Newport Wetlands on Thursday last week. We saw this rare duckweed at two places on the reserve. There has been some debate whether it is really established in Wales, this proved it. There at least two other known sites in Wales. Normally it has four leaves together in the shape of a butterfly, the above picture does not show this. As you can see from the photo the leaves are almost transparent. We also saw Lemna minuta at Newport Wetlands, but this has a much darker green leaf and normally only two leaves together. 

Orange Mullein in Cardiff

I was walking around some waste ground in Cardiff today and came across this rather tall showy Orange Mullein ( Verbascum phlomoides). It is like Common Mullein (V. thapsi) but taller and larger in all parts. Orange Mullein is a rare garden escape in Wales.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BSBI Welsh AGM at Tintern

The Welsh AGM started with a walk at Lower Wyndcliff a few miles south of Tintern. The above photo is of the group looking at Carex digitata (Fingered Sedge) in what was a small quarry. It was a lovely sunny hot day. The shade from the trees was very welcome and under the beech we saw a number of Bird's-nest Orchids, mostly finished flowering, the picture below is the best we saw in flower.

We couldn't finish the day without seeing Tintern Spurge. Many photos were taken of the spurge by the group. Below is the Tintern Spurge, a yellow-green looking plant with red stems.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Hunting orchids in Montgomeryshire

I went to two sites in Montgomeryshire this week to try to refind old orchid records. The first, Pseudorchis albida (small-white orchid) was last recorded in 1981. There was a fairly good description given of the location, as well as a grid reference, but when I arrived it was fairly clear that the heavily cattle-grazed field was unlikely to support the species. I had a good search round (on the northern slope of the knoll, as described) but no sign. I suspect the grassland has been considerably improved and enriched by the cattle grazing since it was last seen.

Luckily, I was also able to visit a SSSI on the same farm's land, which was supposed to support Trollius europaeus (globeflower). Although I did not refind globeflower, it was a nice site to wander around and record a species list for the vice-county recorder. While looking along the river bank (just outside the SSSI) I caught a glimpse of yellow and wondered for a moment if it could be what I was looking for, but in fact it was Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh poppy) - more likely to be a garden escape than a native plant.
Meconopsis cambrica - Welsh poppy - glimpsed through the trees on a river bank
I then went on to another local site, a SSSI with a record for Epipactis palustris (marsh helleborine) - from 1989 (three non-flowering spikes). This one had a really good grid reference but sadly once again I was unable to refind it. There were some lovely swarms of Dactylorhiza maculata (heath spotted-orchid).
A very impressive display of Dactylorhiza maculata - Heath spotted orchid
So not one of my targets refound but hopefully my species lists will be somewhat useful for the vice-county recorder in her preparations for the 2020 Atlas.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Lithospermum revisited

Back to the Denbighshire Lithospermum purpocaeruleum site last week, it has certainly grown up since March, but is probably suffering from too much shade, as there is no sign of flowering and the plants are not as tall as they can be. A management challenge for our colleagues in Natural Resources Wales, working with the site owners. I don't envy the decision makers, when dealing with the only site in North Wales, all the eggs are definitely in one basket, and any management operation must carry risks as well as benefits!

Lithospermum purpocaeruleum - purple Gromwell in woodland shade
At the other historical site around the corner we searched for several hours but did not refind it, so maybe it really has vanished - or maybe it is sitting quietly and vegetatively in a spot where three botanists didn't spot it! We did record quite a good species list for the woodland, and also found Viola hirta - hairy violet - which I believe is a new record for the 10km square and an additional record for the Denbighshire Rare Plants Register (it is Locally Scarce in Denbighshire, though if a few more people find new ones, perhaps not scarce forever?).

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Bloody Crane's-bill - Geranium sanguineum

Hottentot-fig - Carpobrotus edulis

Smaller Tree-mallow - Malva pseudolavatera

Smaller Tree-mallow

White Mignonette - Reseda alba

Viper's-bugloss - Echium vulgare
Had a great afternoon on the coast at Tenby today. If you like a mixture of native and non-native plants this is a good place to visit. The Smaller Tree-mallow was everywhere, it has been known here since the 1940s. Only saw one plant of the White Mignonette and Viper's-bugloss was in a number of places on the cliffs. Not sure about the status of Bloody Crane's-bill on the cliffs here, anyway it was a lovely patch of colour. The Hottentot-fig was only in small patches, the flowers always look so beautiful.