Sunday, 9 February 2020

Darwin Festival 2020

There is a talk coming up during the Darwin Festival 2020 which may be of interest:

Patterns in Nature, Genes or Geometry?

Who: A talk by Derek Cooper
When: Saturday 15th February, 3pm
Where: Shrewsbury Unitarian Church, High Street, Shrewsbury SY1 1LR

Derek Cooper gained his first degree in Chemistry at Manchester then worked for his Ph.D. in photochemistry followed by post Doc research at Cornell University. He slid into horticulture on his wife Pauline’s coat tails and now follows the habit of a lifetime by asking searching scientific questions.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Winter Social and talk on the Beautiful Burial Ground

Don't forget next weekend is the first meeting of 2020: 2pm, Sat. 25th Jan. FSC Preston Montford.

There will be a talk on the Beautiful Burial Ground project by the Director of Caring for God's Acre, Harriet Carty. The project is bringing together and making accessible biological records for churchyards, often species rich oases. All welcome, nor prior booking is needed and the event is free. Homemade cakes and biscuits, tea, coffee, berry quiz answers and prizes.  Hope to see you there.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Happy New Year 2020!

One of the last sunsets of December 2019 over the Long Mynd was an absolute stunner.

It was quickly back to foggy and atmospheric in the following days but very mild and the birds started to sing at the turn of the year.  I hope you all enjoyed your festive holidays and have lots of  botanical new year's resolutions to get stuck into.  We're looking forward to organising this year's field meetings, so if you have any special requests for locations, send us a comment, an email, facebook message or better still see you on Jan. 25th for the indoor social and talk at FSC Preston Montford, Shrewsbury, SY4 1HW at 2-4pm.  Harriet Carty, Director of Caring for God's Acre, will be giving a talk about The Beautiful Burial Ground, a project to bring together records from churchyards and make them easily accessible.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

A seasonal quiz and festive greetings!
Here is a fruity botanical quiz to keep you entertained during the winter holiday season.  The majority of the pics were taken this week in Shropshire, a few were taken a few weeks ago when they were in their prime, just two were taken out of county, not all are native but most, or all, will be quite familiar.

Scientific names for each plant as far as you can go to subspecies, following Stace Fourth Edition since we all need to get used to it!  There are various bonus and supplementary questions so answer as many extra questions as you can.  Bring your answers to the winter social when there will be prizes for the highest scores on Sat. 25th January, FSC Preston Montford at 2-4pm.

1 Supplementary Q. Food plant of much loved (mostly) children's pet, which has an efficient form of reproduction, what is this called?  Bonus Q: How is this defined?

2 Supplementary Q. What is the country/region of origin?

3 Supplementary Q. How many species in this agg.?  Bonus Q. What reproductive method has enabled this speciation?

4 Supplementary Q. What is the name of the structure that enables this plant to attach to the host tree?

Supplementary Q. How come this plant is so dangerous?

 Supplementary Q. Name three traditional cultivated varieties (English names) from Shropshire?

7 Supplementary Q. How old is the oldest tree of this species in the UK and where is it?

8 Supplementary Q. How many Blackbirds are there?

 9 Supplementary Q. What is the name of the south Shropshire hill in the background?

10 Supplementary Q.  A species related to this one has the largest genome on record, which is it ?Bonus Q.  What is a picogram?

11 Just the scientific name.

12 Just the scientific name.

13 Supplementary Q. What is the animal in the tree?

14 Just the scientific name.

15 Supplementary Q. How is the genus name used, grammatically speaking?

16 Supplementary Q. Which 'list' includes this plant?

17 Supplementary Q. Associated with what mythical creature?

18 Supplementary Q.  How many species in this agg.?

19 Supplementary Q.  What gives the bark the bitter smell?

That's it for pictures but here are some more bonus questions:20.  What is a berry, in botanical terms?21.  Which of the above fruits are not berries, and what are they if they are not berries?22.  Which is the odd one out?Here ends the festive quiz, hope you enjoyed it.  Don't forget to bring your answers to the winter social when there will be prizes for the highest scores on Sat. 25th January, FSC Preston Montford at 2-4pm.  

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Autumn 2019 newsletter coming soon

The Autumn 2019 Shropshire Botanical Society newsletter will be winging its way to members very soon. The 'Cover plant' is Galeopsis angustifolia, Red Hemp-nettle, a Red List species which is especially scarce here in the west.

Ruth Dawes gives us an update on the status and conservation efforts for Red Hemp-Nettle at Llanymynech Telephone Exchange, Shropshire.  Ruth has counted the plants at this location for many years, recently collected seed for Kew Millenium Seedbank and undertook scrub clearance to maintain the open conditions that this little annual needs.  An all round conservation effort and with the pleasing results that the population appeared to be thriving this year.

Galeopsis angustifolia, Red Hemp-Nettle, photo D.Wrench

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Searching the pool margins for bryophytes at Brown Moss SSSI

Our last field meeting of the year was at Brown Moss SSSI, near Whitchurch today.  The small group, welcomed a new member and we all benefited from Martin Godfrey's tremendous bryophyte knowledge.  The whole site was quieter than expected with most of the dog walkers staying home, perhaps afraid of what the weather might do.  We had a lovely, mainly sunny, few hours of mooching about the wetlands, with an occasional foray into the woods.

We were hoping to find the rare Riccia canaliculata, Channelled Crystalwort, but recent rains had covered any exposed mud, which is its favoured habitat.  The remainder of the drawdown zone was already colonised by aquatic plants for which Brown Moss is well known.  

There was plentiful Lythrum portula, Water Purslane which has clearly had a good year.  

Amongst the Water Purslane was Persicaria mitis, Tasteless Water-Pepper and abundant Ranunculus peltatus.
When examining bryophytes through the hand lens you never know what invertebrate might enter your field of view.  On a young oak tree on the 'island' we came across this Yellow Tail moth caterpillar.  They feed on various deciduous trees and will overwinter as a larvae to resume development next year.  It was crawling on Metzgeria furcata and Ulota crispa.

It was a good end to the 2019 field season and we shall now be finalising next year's programme.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Only one more field meeting to go this year - Brown Moss SSSI, 10.30am, Sat. 28th September 2019

Ranunculus peltatus (photo M.Cousins)
There is always a tinge of regret when nearing the end of the field meeting programme.  So it is nice to finish with a flourish at Brown Moss SSSI, a very diverse and interesting site, renowned for wetland rarities.  So make sure the date is in your diary, Sat. 28th Sept.

We will be privileged to have Dr Martin Godfrey as the leader of this event.  Martin is an experienced teacher, bryologist and pteridologist.

Riccia canaliculata (photo S.Pilkington)
We hope to find the rare liverwort Channelled Crystalwort Riccia canaliculata at its only site in England.  Bring your boots or wellies as it grows on the mud around the pools.  There will be a focus on bryophytes which will be a good run up for autumn/winter recording, when bryophytes really come into their own.

If you would like some background on this enigmatic liverwort, Dr Sharon Pilkington surveyed and reported on the status of Riccia canaliculata at Brown Moss in Field Bryology No 116, p 6-9, Nov 16: Article

Hope to see you there.