Wednesday 17 June 2020

Botany Bubble anyone?

Those of you who were at the winter social meeting would have heard Harriet Carty from Caring for God’s Acre give an engaging talk on the Beautiful Burial Grounds project which aims to raise the profile of these wildlife rich spaces and encourage recording.  Members of the Botanical Society were invited to choose a churchyard or two (or as many as you like) in Shropshire and start recording plants.  

Liam Taylor, also from the project, followed up in the Spring newsletter with the list of churchyards and two maps showing where they all are.  Now that we are seeing lifting of restrictions, visiting churchyards near-ish to home and doing some peaceful recording (either on your own, with family members, as a botany bubble or with social distancing etc) is back on the cards.  It seems like a really nice way of easing back gently into botanising so we have reproduced the maps here.  Don't worry that they look small and ineligible, just click on them and they should open nicely.  There has to be a churchyard near everyone, surely.   

North Shropshire: 

South Shropshire:

Please continue to send your records following the usual protocol (see Recording Plants page of this website) to VC recorder Dr Sarah Whild.  Once they are all confirmed send a copy to Liam as well  If at all possible, please use 8-figure grid references with your records. 

This is just a suggestion so please only do what works for you, enabling you and others to stay safe and keep within current guidelines whilst getting out and seeing and recording a few plants.

Saturday 13 June 2020

Growing ferns from spores

You may remember Martin Godfrey's article in the Spring 2019 newsletter on how to grow wild ferns from spores.  Committee member Andrew Perry has done just that and has shared some of his experience here.

Andrew collected samples last autumn, just a few pinnae from each species with ripe sporangia underneath.  The spores look like brown dust which you collect after leaving the pinnae in a paper packet in a warm dry place overnight.

Andrew sprinkled some spores onto some damp compost in jam jars, with lids to keep them moist, and left them on a shady windowsill.

The spores germinated into prothalli, spreading across the compost.  The prothalli produce male and female organs resulting in the fertilized sporophyte stage, familiar to us as the ferns.

Andrew was excited to see that after several months the prothalli had started to produce tiny ferns, just as Martin described.  Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern was the first to develop followed by Dryopteris borreri Borrer's Scaly Male Fern.  The young fronds were transplanted into some compost in a propagator on a north facing window sill to grow on and Andrew now has six species developing.

Very easy, just requiring a little a patience.  This would be an excellent project for later in the summer when the sporangia ripen.