|Galium album blooming in Newquay
Image: Judy Swift
It's fascinating to see the plant records that some botanical "big names" sent in. Past BSBI Presidents David Pearman, Michael Braithwaite and Ian Denholm were out hunting in Cornwall, Berwickshire and Herts. respectively and current President John Faulkner was out hunting in Armagh.
David Pearman was with members of the Botanical Cornwall Group in Newquay and their list of 61 species in flower included our first record of Kickxia elatine (Sharp-leaved Fluellen) and a very out-of-season Galium album (Hedge bedstraw)!
Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science, was out with his children in W. Yorks. and they found 18 species in flower. Obviously not all our eminent botanists were able to devote three whole hours to a Plant Hunt but several very kindly submitted short lists while nipping to the shops and others managed to find interesting species in flower.
|Kickxia elatine blooming in Newquay
Image: Judy Swift
Remember Sandy Knapp's Mystery Mustard from her Plant Hunt around Walthamstow Marshes? Her original hunch was Sisymbrium irio but like the world-class botanist she is, Sandy checked her plant carefully against herbarium specimens and this what she said:
"Checking the identity of our mystery mustard (always so tricky, mustards) in the herbarium let me see the variation in these most variable of plants - it was great to see how the leaf shape is different up and down the plant (just like ours) and over the season.
"Mustard identification depends so much on fruit, it's tough when you are not sure if the siliques are full size or not.... I thought our mystery plant was Sisymbrium with bitsy siliques, but in fact it was Hirschfeldia incana (Hoary mustard) - tiny siliques normal in this species!
|London Botanical Still Life #2:
Image: Sophie Leguil
Ok, now we know what Sandy's secret weapons are - a great ID book, a great herbarium, and a fellow BSBI member to discuss the plant with ;-) And this is the second record of H. incana in bloom - Jim also found it in Edinburgh. It does seem to be a plant that likes city life in general, whereas Sisymbrium irio favours London, as its common name suggests!
Also out New Year Plant Hunting were Alan Cann of Annals of Botany fame who spotted eight species blooming during a short walk in Leics. and bryologist Sam Bosanquet of Mosses and Liverworts of Britain & Ireland fame who found 23 higher plant species in bloom in Northants.
BSBI Grasses expert Arthur Copping recorded 44 species around Diss in Norfolk, including our only records so far of Anisantha diandra (Great Brome) and Chenopodium ficifolium (Fig-leaved Goosefoot) in flower, while Trevor Dines of Plantlife (and a BSBI member, of course!) found 36 species blooming in the lanes of Denbighshire.
Image: P. Oswald
Philip, Arthur and several other "Pubs" members, all friends of the late Peter Sell, have been working hard to bring the final two volumes of Sell & Murrell to press so it's good to hear of them getting out to do a little plant-spotting.
And Philip spotted one particularly noteworthy plant. He sent the image (on left) saying:
|Ivy Broomrape blooming in Cambridge
Image: P. Oswald
On Helena and the Somerset Rare Plants Group finding Ivy Broomrape Orobanche hederae in bloom, Philip said "It isn't just in Somerset that O. hederae is flowering, though admittedly it's native there and only naturalised in Cambridge. Here (on right) is a photo of one of two plants in flower in Mill Road Cemetery this morning – along with more than a hundred dead spikes.
"I believe it is a consistent characteristic of this species that, unlike any other Orobanche (anyway to my knowledge), spikes regularly come up all through the period from June to November (the latest that I have seen them previously – in the Botanic Garden, killed off by a sharp frost).
|Ceratocapnos claviculata (Climbing Corydalis)
blooming on Killiney Hill, Dublin 1/1/2016
Image: Sylvia Reynolds
Coming up next: the first of the New Year Plant Hunt prizes!