Wednesday 30 August 2017

Rare plant found in Hampshire!

Frond of Equisetum telmateia (centre)
growing amongst the hybrid, for comparison
Image: M. Rand
It's always a pleasure to hear from Martin Rand, County Recorder for Hampshire, but it's especially nice when he shares details of a rare plant found in the county! Over to Martin:

"It's not every day one can clock up the third site in the world for a rare plant, but on 12th July local botanist and ecologist Neil Sanderson did just that. 

"Bowman's Horsetail (Equisetum x bowmanii) was first found and described by the then County Recorder, Paul Bowman, in 1986 near Minstead in the northern New Forest. 

"From his original spot it has been mapped over about two kilometres aligned along the A337 towards Cadnam. 

E. x bowmanii
Image: M. Rand
"Then in 2006 it was found in the Scottish Highlands, in an area where one of its parents is not known. The new site is only about 1.5 kilometres from the original one, but on a first check seems to be distinct from it, with no intervening populations.

"Bowman's Horsetail is a hybrid between Giant Horsetail (Equisetum telmateia) and Wood Horsetail (E. sylvaticum). It is intermediate in size between the two and has a less robust, rather greener stem than E. telmateia and the branches shorten towards the top, unlike E. telmateia

E. x bowmanii
Image: M. Rand
"The hybrid has branched branches like E. sylvaticum, but the branching is less profuse and delicate. The asymmetric tops to the fronds, where the top few whorls appear to be sidling off, are characteristic of the hybrid but not of E. sylvaticum

"Although this hybrid is likely to be overlooked, it is probably genuinely rare. On the world stage, the geographical ranges of the parent species do not overlap much. Ecologically they tend to be separated, too, having rather different requirements.

"All images on this page were taken at the new Hampshire site on 27th August 2017."

Thanks Martin!

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