Friday, 30 May 2014

South Yorks. botanists out in force

Arum maculatum
Image: M. Linney
The South Yorkshire Botany Group has been out in the field again, this time visiting an ancient woodland site to look for Indicator plants. This second meeting, to Wombwell Wood and the Blacker Hill area, was advertised in the Field meetings Programme and attracted even more botanists than the group's inaugural meeting!

Co-ordinator Mel Linney said "We had a great day, twenty four made the meeting with eight new faces so it would seem we are attracting attention. Also we are drawing in younger botanists eager to learn more so, I think, some training sessions are needed to encourage beginners and improvers".

Excellent idea! Experience from VC55 suggests that there are lots of people who are just starting out with plant ID and would like to learn more.  

South Yorkshire botanists checking a bank
Image: Joshua Linney
Lotus corniculatus Bird's Foot Trefoil
Image: M. Linney
Mel very kindly emailed me a species list for the day, but it is May and we are all too busy to write long reports unless absolutely necessary, so I'm hoping we can piece together a fuller picture of the group's day just by looking at the plants they recorded! 

Firstly, I see they found Galium odoratum Sweet Woodruff, Lysimachia nemorum Yellow Pimpernel and Milium effusum Wood Millet. 

These would count as Ancient Woodland Indicators in Leicestershire and perhaps also in South Yorkshire? And it turns out that Wombwell Wood is indeed an ancient woodland site, part of the South Yorkshire Forest, and one of a network of England’s Community  Forests. This programme was established in 1990 by the Countryside Commission.

Some of the woodland species the group saw are typical of more acid woods: Betula pubescens Downy BirchQuercus petraea Sessile Oak and Blechnum spicant Hard-fern. There are also records for Festuca ovina Sheep's FescueAchillea ptarmica Sneezewort, Teucrium scorodonia Wood Sage and Veronica officinalis Heath Speedwell, so I guess we're all thinking, acid grassland/heathland. 

Glechoma hederacea Ground-Ivy
Image: M. Linney
Although they also got Knautia arvensis Field Scabious and Rubus caesius Dewberry, typical of more alkaline soils! And they saw Glebionis segetum Corn Marigold. 

Add in the records of Nasturtium officinale Watercress and Veronica beccabunga Brooklime and we know they also found somewhere wetter while they were out.

That's a nice mosaic of habitats and soil types and I gather the weather was good, so it sounds like a lovely day looking at some nice plants. And some more plant records nailed into the bargain. Well done, South Yorkshire Botany Group - here's to your next meeting in July! Contact Mel if you would like to attend.