An early gleam of Spring; The Radnor Lily or Early Star of Bethlehem; Gagea bohemica.
Seren gynnar Bethlehem (Cym)It seems appropriate to start my term on the Welsh Officer blog with a post about a local herald of spring; the Radnor Lily (Early Star of Bethlehem) or Gagea bohemica.
Gagea bohemica as photographed by the author on Febraury 6th this year.
John Crellin (VCR for Brecknockshire) https://bsbi.org/brecknock organised a visit to Stanner Rocks on the 6th of February especially to see this flower . We were guided by Andy Shaw, a local botanist who has surveyed the plants there regularly.
Andy gave us an enthusiastic introduction to the history of botany in the area, mentioning the groups of Victorian botanists that used to alight from an old train station less than 100m away, spending their days collecting and botanising in the vicinity. Their attention was drawn by the unusual summer flora which included Spiked Speedwell (Veronica spicata), Sticky Catchfly (Lychnis viscaria).
The leaves of Gagea bohemicus are not too difficult to find in February but die back quickly as spring advances.
Subsequent counts have found as many as 1,000 plants on Stanner rocks, but only a very few of these plants flower at all. This may be because conditions on the rock are not quite right for this Mediterranean plant, and it may also explain why Stanner rocks is its only UK site.
The area where the Lily grows is fenced off and visits can be made through Natural Resources Wales (NRW). https://naturalresources.wales/?lang=en. If you do arrange a visit, be prepared for a steep climb and to peer over rock ledges.
If you wish to see the summer flowers, Andy Shaw will be leading another BSBI visit on Saturday 1st of June. See https://bsbi.org/field-meetings for more information. Please book a place with Andrew Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org