Tuesday 29 May 2018

Killiney Hill Park - Sunshine and Some Irish Botanical Rarities

View of Killiney Bay from Killiney Hill
Image: Kate-Marie O’Connor
The Dublin/East Coast BSBI Local Group had their first botanical “outdoors” outing of the year to Killiney Hill Park in Co. Dublin on Sunday the 6th May. 

Kate-Marie O'Connor sent us this report: 

"It proved to be a very enjoyable day with sunny skies, pleasant company and of course lots of interesting plants. 

"Killiney Hill is a lovely park located between the coastal suburbs of Killiney and Dalkey in South Co. Dublin, with spectacular view of both Dublin and Killiney Bay, Dalkey Island and the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains. 

Primula veris in bloom on a path
towards the old Dalkey Quarry
Image: Kate-Marie O’Connor
"Killiney Hill Park is a designated nature reserve, with notable flora and fauna, and is protected under Irish legislation. 

"During the summer months, the striking yellow flowers of gorse Ulex europeaus against the deep blue of the Irish sea is a well-known and cherished sight to visitors of the park and on Sunday’s visit, this was no exception.

"The seven attendees were eager to get started and began their recording journey along the path towards the old Dalkey quarry, noting typical grassy verge species along the way, such as Stellaria holostea, Sisymbrium officinale and Galium verum as well as Allium vineale, which was tasted to confirm identification! 

"En route, a Sorbus hibernica species was spotted with its leaves just about to fully open. This species is endemic to Ireland and, according to Webb et al. (the trusty Irish flora that no botanist is without!), is typically found in the centre of the country. Sorbus aria was also recorded in the Park.
Examining a Sorbus species
Image: Colm Clarke
"We encountered lots of other lovely plants in full bloom, including Primula veris, which never fails to impress with its dainty yellow flowers, and the striking Pentaglottis sempervirens with its vibrant blue flowers and somewhat bristly leaves.

"From the quarry path, we climbed numerous steps up towards the old aerial building, dipping in and out of areas of scrub and scattered trees, which included Corylus avellana, Sorbus aucuparia and  Taxus baccata, and then down through a coniferous wooded area with some scattered Ilex aquifolium.

"From there, we made our way through a beech woodland where we came across a Ficaria verna subsp. bulbilifer plant with a pair of very impressive tubers present on its leaf axils. 

"Other typical woodland species recorded on the day included Oxalis acetosella, Sanicula europaea, Glechoma hederacea and Hyacinthoides non-scripta with its creamy yellow-coloured anthers and pleasant smell and the hybrid Hyacinthoides x massartiana with its blue-coloured anthers.

Examining Ceratocapnos claviculata
Image: Clíona Byrne
"En route to the Obelisk, the location of which marks the highest point in the park of 153m, we veered off the path and up on to some rocky outcrops surrounded by Ulex europeaus where we spotted our first record of Ceratocapnos claviculata of the day, while in the midst of keying out Sedum anglicum

"This delicate, scrambling plant with its pale yellow, tubular flowers was a delight to see. 

"According to Webb et al., this species is considered rare in Ireland, generally found along the the south-east and south centre coast of the country. 

Ceratocapnos claviculata up close
Image: Clíona Byrne
"It was previously recorded in the Park over eight years ago, so it was with particular satisfaction that it was noted again. We were lucky enough to spot this plant at another location, just west of the Obelisk.

"Nearing the end of the day, the eagle eyes of BSBI's Irish Officer Maria Long spotted another Irish rarity - the very tiny Trifolium ornithopodioides, on a patch of well-trampled ground on a slope, growing alongside common species Lolium perenne, Poa annua, Plantago major, Bellis perennis and Trifolium repens

"This plant species has also a very restricted distribution in Ireland, known only in the south and east coasts of the country (Webb et al.). 

"Trifolium ornithopodioides has a very small white flower, no greater than 1cm in length, which could be easily missed.

Trifolium ornithopodioides
Image: Maria Long
"After a successful day of recording, we treated ourselves to some well deserved coffee and cake at the local café in the park and enjoyed the remaining afternoon sunshine.

If you’d like to join us on our upcoming outings, which include visits to Castletown Estate and Parklands in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ballynafagh Lake in Co. Kildare and Phoenix Park in Dublin to name but a few, please drop us an email at dublinbsbi@gmail.com.

Hope to see you at one of our outings sometime soon!"

Many thanks to Kate-Marie for sending us this report.

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