It has been all smiles so far for our field meetings programme which is going very well, and our next outing is a recording visit to Smiling Tree Farm, no less!. The aim is to record as much as we can on the farm as the owners are really interested to know what they have there. All we know so far is:
Saturday, 19 June 2021
Thursday, 3 June 2021
The first field visit of the season, last Saturday, to Brook Vessons delivered on all promises; plants, weather, company, views and there is a lovely photo album on Dan's Facebook page
Next one is Sun. 6th June to Muxton Marsh SSSI and Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Granville Country Park, north east of Telford. It combines industrial heritage with fabulous species rich habitats, with damp meadows, sedge fen, alder carr and some ancient woodland.
Muxton Marsh SSSI citation says "The site is part of a complex of habitats which have developed in an area of north-east Telford left semi-derelict by past coal-mining. Impeded drainage caused by spoil dumping has contributed to the formation of wetland habitats here... and this site is the best remaining example of unimproved grassland, fen and carr.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve description is slightly more poetic; "An abundance of bird’s-foot trefoil now feeds generations of caterpillars of Telford’s speciality butterflies, the dingy skipper and green hairstreak. Orchids, ox-eye daisy, cowslips and yellow rattle, rarely seen now in agricultural fields, have miraculously appeared in what was, in the not-so-distant past, a grim and uninviting landscape."
Penny knows it well and is leading this one, meeting at 11:00 am in Woodbine Close. This is a cul-de-sac off Marshbrook Way, Muxton at SJ7146 1351. Park between drive ways as discreetly as possible. For further information about the meeting please contact Penny Wysome, 01952 242617, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, 22 May 2021
Our second field meeting of the year is coming up next weekend, we are going to the lovely Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank below the Stiperstones, on Sat. 29th May. There will be lots to enjoy with varied habitats and a beautiful landscape:
|The many delights of Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank|
Everyone is welcome but do check arrangements first with the leader Dan Wrench, Mob 07718391794, danwrench@gmail.
Meet at 10:00 am in the farm yard at SJ395012. Parking spaces are limited.
Be prepared for all weathers with plenty of layers, strong boots, food and drink.
Thursday, 22 April 2021
Spring Meeting, 2-3.30pm, Sat. 24th April, by Zoom
“3 years into the North West Rare Plant Initiative”, a talk by Josh Styles
This weekend Joshua Styles is giving an online talk to Shropshire Botanical Society on the North West Rare Plants Initiative (NWRPI). Josh set the initiative up in 2017 aiming to re-establish rare plants into the wild in the NW region where they had become locally extinct. He has done some brilliant propagation from wild plant propagules (all under appropriate licence) growing them at home in the garden. He has a list of 45 priority species which includes Drosera anglica Great Sundew:
|Drosera anglica Great Sundew (Scotland) photo Mags Cousins|
There are historic records for Great Sundew in Shropshire, such as at Wem Moss and perhaps with recent bog restoration undertaken by Shropshire Wildlife Trust there is a chance we can see this plant again in the county. We are more familiar with Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew, which although more widespread is still under pressure due to habitat degradation:
|Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew|
photo Mags Cousins
Everyone is welcome to join the talk, just message us for a Zoom link if you haven't received a link already: email@example.com
Monday, 29 March 2021
We are lucky in Shropshire to have a few populations of the delightful Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea. It is described by the BSBI as a "bulbous perennial herb of moist, base-rich, shady habitats including woods, hedgerows, limestone pavements, pastures, riverbanks and stream banks; sometimes washed down on alluvium in riverine woodland subject to seasonal flooding, mainly lowland." Populations are mostly small and widely scattered in the UK and the species is on the Vascular Plant Red List for Great Britain as Least Concern.
Gagea lutea is a rare plant in Shropshire restricted to a handful of sites in base rich open woodland, W8 Fraxinus excelsior Ash woodland, including on the limestone of north west Shropshire and streamsides south west of Bridgnorth.
|Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea|
It flowers in March, so now is the time to look for it. It can be a shy flowerer, and if not flowering can be easily overlooked as the leaves are strap shaped and very similar to Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta with which it often grows. The two species can be told apart by the 3-5 ridges on the back of the leaf of Gagea, which is a brighter green and narrower:
|Underside of Bluebell leaf bottom and Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, top|
|Wooded river bank habitat of Gagea lutea, south Shropshire|
|Gagea lutea in open calcareous woodland, north Shropshire near Llanymynech|
Ruth went to check on the populations local to her, this March in north Shropshire and was pleased to find it flowering well:
|Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea, 27th March 2021, photo Ruth Dawes|
If you do manage to see this lovely plant, please send in your records plus a photograph, an accurate 8 figure grid reference and an assessment of population size, to the v.c.40 recorder: Dr Sarah Whild
Saturday, 27 February 2021
After a few days of proper warm spring sunshine suddenly everything seems to be bursting into life and the long hard freeze already seems a distant memory. Beware the hard ground frosts at night though! This stunning Small-leaved lime Tilia cordata coppice was spotted near Bridgnorth this week. The stools are showing some fantastic regrowth and just how amenable this species is to coppicing. The wood is multipurpose, ideal for poles, firewood, furniture and carving. It is soft when green and dries pale and hard, good for beginners to try carving spoons, an activity for the remainder of lockdown? Lime trees are estimated to have about 31 associated insects and 83 lichens and is a fabulous source of pollen and nectar. The natural distribution of Small-leaved lime is limited by cool summers as it needs warmth to regenerate from seed.
|Small-leaved Lime, Tilia cordata coppice near Bridgnorth|
Also putting on a show were the native wild Daffodil, Narcissus pseudonarcissus:
What is bursting into life near you?
Sunday, 31 January 2021
It is already two weeks since we were reflecting on our wintry New Year Plant Hunt walks with an online slideshow of finds for the zoom social. Shropshire botanists did well this year with a good spread of lists made across the county, some by members who had never taken part before. The aim is to find blooming plants, with visible reproductive parts on show, during a 3 hour walk. The BSBI have already started analysing the data. An amazing 1,811 people took part and recorded an extraordinary 710 species in bloom.
|New Year Plant Hunts in Shropshire, 2021|
The warming effect of Shrewsbury town centre, plus garden escapes produced the longest lists for Shropshire. Sarah and Gordon found the most species flowering with 65 species in Castlefields, which put this into the top 20 longest lists in the country. Sarah spotted this pristine looking Black Horehound Ballota nigra:
|Black Horehound Ballota nigra|
|Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua|
|Sweet violet Viola odorata|
Sandra Spence recorded Butcher’s Broom Ruscus aculeatus, which is always a nice find whatever time of year:
|Butcher’s Broom Ruscus aculeatus|
|Bilbao’s Fleabane Erigeron floribundus|
|Giant Bramble Rubus armeniacus|
In contrast, Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus, a small plant of well drained open habitats, such as railway lines and banks, walls and arable margins was recorded by Dan on his walk in Belle Vue and Sutton, Shrewsbury with his daughter:
|Small Toadflax Chaenorhinum minus|
|Climbing Corydalis Ceratocapnos claviculata|
A few folks found fumitories in flower and Dan's turned out to be Tall Ramping Fumitory Fumaria bastardii, take a look at those large, frilly sepals:
|Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis|
|Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna|