Monday, 15 July 2019

BSBI Summer Meeting 2019: Day Two

Botanists at Great Close Scar
Image: David Morris
Yesterday we brought you a report by organiser Jonathan Shanklin about Day One of the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting (ASM) 2019

Now David Morris, botanical blogger, County Recorder for Oxfordshire and a regular contributor to these pages, brings you his report about Day Two. 

Over to David:  

Bird's-eye primrose
Image: Dave Barlow

"I have been looking forward to the ASM since I got the flyer last year, and as the week approached I’ve been mentally preparing myself for all the wonderful plants I was hoping to see. 

"I have been particularly looking forward to the wetland habitats for which the Malham Tarn area is internationally important and the stacks of rare plants these habitats support. 

"Would I get to see Bartsia alpina (alpine bartsia) or Carex flava (great yellow-sedge), for instance?

"The first day of the meeting promised a great deal, an ambitious six-mile circular walk to be led by Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science, to take in most of the habitats and a sample of the plants to be found around Malham Tarn. 

Dwarf milkwort
Image: David Morris
"There were so many of us that we had to split into three groups! Not wanting to miss a thing I followed Kevin, and we headed out onto the pastures around the Tarn.

"Many in our group were new to the vegetation of the area, and Kevin spent a while demonstrating the plants in the limestone grassland and calcareous mires around the Tarn. 

Baneberry
Image: Dave Barlow
"Grasses and sedges figured heavily, with species such as Sesleria caerulea (blue moor-grass) characterising the limestone grasslands and sedges such as Carex hostiana (tawny sedge) and Carex lepidocarpa (long-stalked yellow sedge) the calcareous mires. 

"Primula farinosa (bird’s-eye primrose), a special plant of the Carboniferous Limestone, was growing abundantly all over the calcareous mires, here and there still in flower.

"The mire with the rarities was to the east of the Tarn, in an area of springs called Great Close Mire. Here we were shown the super rare Bartsia alpina and Polygala amarella (dwarf milkwort) – two lifers for me and most people in the group. 

Angular Solomon's-seal
Image: David Morris
"There were also other local plants of calcareous mires such as Equisetum variegatum (variegated horsetail) and Eriophorum latifolium (broad-leaved cotton-grass), a favourite of mine.

"After exhausting the mires we marched south to botanise an area of limestone pavement where Kevin had previously found some nice plants. There we were shown the scarce Polygonatum odoratum (angular Solomon’s-seal) (another lifer) and Actaea spicata (baneberry), and some of the commoner plants of pavement such as Asplenium viride (green spleenwort).

"That was just the organised part of the day. The wonderful location of the ASM at the FSC centre means one can wander about during free time and continue the fabulous botanising. 

"This evening, a post-prandial walk around Tarn Moss, the complex of wet woodland, raised mire and alkaline fen adjoining the Tarn, yielded a list of sedges as long as your arm, including Carex flava, and other delights such as Calamagrostis stricta (narrow small-reed)!"

A bunch of happy botanists
Image: David Morris
Many thanks to David for sending this report. 

Some great plants there, some lovely friendly botanists and a chance to spend a day in the field learning about local plants and habitats with BSBI's Head of Science. Jealous, moi? Oh yes. 

Tomorrow, blogger Colin Conroy will be reporting from the Summer Meeting - watch this space!  

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