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.

Sunday 28 April 2019

Loton Deer Park, Alberbury 27th April 2019

At our most recent meeting we joined forces with the Alberbury community for the annual nature walk to Loton Deer Park.  We were all guests of Sir Michael Leighton who has looked after the deer park as a haven for wildlife all his life and who joined us for the morning along with birders and entomologists.  The blustery weather kept birds and insects quiet but we saw lots of nice plants in the varied habitats of the park.  We started in the shelter of the broadleaved woodland where everyone's favourites Tammus communis, Black Bryony and Ranunculus auricomis agg. Goldilock's Buttercup were gracing the side of the path as we wound our way up to the deer park past the quarry.

The top find in the deer park was this Potentilla argentea, Hoary Cinquefoil (spotted by Penny).  It is not very common in Shropshire but was known from this site.  It was nestled amongst the Erodium cicutarium, Common Stork's-bill and other ephemerals on the track side.

The finale was a rare treat for a Botanical Society outing as there were refreshments afterwards at the village hall including bacon butty, tea and cakes all made by the local community and in aid of the Cardeston Church Faulty Tower Appeal.

Saturday 20 April 2019

There was a great turnout for the first field trip on Saturday, 30th March which took us up Caer Caradoc in some very fine weather.

Teesdalia nudicaulis, Shepherd's Cress was the star of the show with many rosettes in flower on the first steep slope we encountered.

The group fanned out for a finger tip search and also found the diminutive Gnaphalium sylvaticum, Heath Cudweed and plentiful Rumex acetosella, Sheep's Sorrel.

We had lunch below the rocks on the Iron Age hillfort to stay out of the fresh breeze which was blowing across the top.  This helped clear the haze and we were rewarded with fine views of the Strettons below.

Dan Wrench captivated everyone with the finer details of identification of some more difficult plants.

We decided to descend via Helmeth Hill, the beautiful Woodland Trust woodland, where the spring flowers were just coming into bloom.

There was a fetching clump of Luzula pilosa, Hairy Wood-rush beside the path which wound its way gently through this very beautiful ancient woodland.  The bluebells will be spectacular in a few weeks time.

Sunday 24 March 2019

Search for Spring ephemerals- first field meeting of 2019

The 2019 Field Meetings Programme is now on the calendar and the first meeting is this Saturday, 30th March and takes us up Caer Caradoc in a search for spring ephemerals.  We had to cancel last year's planned trip up Ragleth as the weather was so awful and there was no shelter, so this time if it is bad weather we'll stick to the sheltered lower slopes of Caradoc and maybe go into Helmeth Wood instead.  The forecast actually looks good for the weekend with more warm weather this week which might bring on some spring flowers.  If not, it will still be a nice walk!  See you soon.  Check the Field Meetings Programme for details.

Blinks and Parsley Piert