Wednesday 17 July 2019

BSBI Summer Meeting 2019: Day Four

Bellflowers and butterburs
Image: K. Tucker
Day Four of the BSBI Summer Meeting and after yesterday's hunt for rare plants in grykes today's report is by Kate. 

When I put out the call for people attending the Summer Meeting to help organiser Jon Shanklin by taking it in turns to write up the daily reports, Kate emailed me back "I'm happy to write a blogpost: I'm a novice so it would be a small way to reciprocate for all the brilliant support I get from Jon and all the other fabulous botanists!" 

What a great attitude and a tribute to how BSBI works: novices and old hands all pitching in together, sharing ID tips and having a great time! 

Rubus pruinosus
Image: K. Tucker
For the benefit of anyone just starting out with plant ID, I've inserted some links to ID resources from BSBI. 

But enough from me, over to Kate:    

"On Day Four, our first day of tetrad recording, our team of four visited Austwick, a small village on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. From there we walked through narrow paths and stone-walled lanes and across heavily grazed and improved fields to Austwick and Lawkland Mosses. The site is an SSSI and described as raised mire, birch woodland and herb-rich meadow. As a novice these are some of the things I loved about the day, in no particular order.

Sand Leek
Image: K. Tucker
"Stopping on the stone bridge across Auckland Beck and using the binoculars to identify a clump of showy, bright yellow Mimulus guttatus (Monkeyflower) one side of the bridge and Mimulus x robertsii (Hybrid Monkeyflower) on the other. The Mimulus guttatus had small red spots in the throat only, and the hybrid red spots both in the throat and on the petals.

"Having a Rubus fan, Ian, in our group and stopping in waist high rank vegetation to admire the distinctive deep red prickles on the Rubus pruinosus, found frequently in the Dales.

"Seeing my first Allium scorodoprasum (Sand Leek) in the lane from the village, with its purple bulbils, papery bracts and flat, rough-edged leaves.

"Watching the glossy Salix pentandra (Bay Willow), with its leaves like a bay tree, glisten in the sun at the entrance to the site where we had our lunch. According to the Woodland Trust they produce a yellow gum which smells like a bay leaf.

Bay Willow catkins
Image: K. Tucker
"Having a day of hybrids demonstrated excellently by David, our recorder for the day. They included: Cirsium x celakovskianum, a hybrid between Cirsium arvense (Creeping Thistle) and Cirsium palustre (Marsh Thistle), which had the appearance of Cirsium arvense plus the winged spines of Cirsium palustre on the stems; Crataegus (Hawthorn), using leaf shape and, later in the season, the sepals of the ripe fruit. I will need a refresher on this, but I have some leaves for reference! 

"Checking a Malus for hairs on the calex, pedicel and underside of the leaf. Even a few hairs rule out Malus sylvestris (Native Crab Apple). We did find a few scattered hairs.

Stinking Tutsan
Image: K. Tucker
"Bringing back a Dryopteris for a first attempt to key out a fern to find a dehisced sporangium is required, which I didn’t have. I will ask one of the fern experts here for help tomorrow. We did see other ferns identified in the field including Dryopteris filix-mas (Male Fern), Dryopteris dilatata (Broad Buckler-fern) and Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-fern). 

"Finding out later that Lawkland was the birthplace of seventeenth century botanist Thomas Lawson whose name has been given to a number of plants, including Hieracium lawsonii.

"Seeing a barn owl fly out of an old stone barn in the fields.

Tutsan (the non-stinky kind)
Image: K. Tucker
"Finding magnificent specimens of both Hypericum hircinum (Stinking Tutsan) and Hypericum androsaemum (Tutsan) and experiencing the pungent smell of the Stinking Tutsan.

"The tiny things - Roland spotting a delicate Veronica scutellata (Marsh Speedwell) with its fine grass-like leaves and finding a small Juncus bufonius (Toad Rush) in cattle trodden mud at a field gate.

"Although we were a bit short on sedges, they incuded Carex leporina (Oval Sedge), Carex echinata (Star Sedge), and Carex nigra (Black Sedge), all of which have names which helpfully describe their fruit.

Rosa mollis, smelling much nicer
than the Stinking Tutsan!

Image: K. Tucker
"David showing us the delicious Rosa mollis (Soft Downy Rose) which, when rubbed on the petiole and at the base of the hip, gives a sweet musky scent.

"Rounding off the day with a spectacular Yorkshire Dales assemblage of drystone wall, Campanula latifolia (Giant Bellflower) and Petasites hybridus (Butterbur).

Huge thanks to Kate for this report - but after a week in the field with her fellow botanists at the Summer Meeting, I think she's left her novice days well behind her!

You can see some more photos from Day Four of the Summer Meeting in this report by botanical trainer Judith Allinson

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