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.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Cardiff Bay BSBI Meeting on 1st June

 16 members braved the crowds and the sun for a lovely walk at Cardiff Bay. One of the many surprises was seeing many Bee Orchids on a grassy slope. We had many other rare species some of which are included in the photos below. Balm-leaved Figwort was seen with the normal red flowers, plus we had four pants with yellow flowers. These are known as Scrophularia scorodonia var. viridiflora. Bullwort - Ammi majus was in bud.

Little Robin - Geranium purpureum the first confirmed record from Glamorgan

The group looking at Little Robin

Slender Sweet-flag - Acorus gramineus, flower in centre of picture

Habitat of Slender Sweet-flag

Crepis rubra - could be the first record for Wales - 5 plants were seen on a grassy slope

Blue Eryngo - Eryngium planum self-sown in a joint between concrete