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May 2021 Botanical Finds from Kent

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 Here is a selection of interesting plants I found this May in the Kent area, I hope you enjoy them. Starting off with  one of the early flowering mouse ears, it's the Grey mouse-ear, a species only found in a few counties with North Kent probably having the largest population of them in the UK. A few years back I found a new colony on a field edge and despite being sprayed and suffering successive Spring droughts they have persisted. I couldn't find any in flower, but here's one in seed. Note how very hairy it is and that the hairs overlap the sepal tips by a long way. The hairs aren't glandular and the inflorescence is lax. All these features are different to the look alike Sticky and Little mouse-ear plants. Cerastium brachypetalum   Midway through May, I found a patch of these plants on an ant hill at Longfield Chalk Bank where they have been absent since 2013. I thought they had died out here as Kent Wildlife Trust had failed to maintain a suitable habitat. Fortuna

Taraxacum, Section Erythrosperma in Kent - April to May 2020

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 When I started out in botany, I thought there big and small Dandelions, but that was it, they were just Dandelions. Several years on and I now know there are over 240 micro species, which are very difficult to identify. They clone themselves year on year so do not hybridise with other species. As a result, these seperate species have been placed into different sections. The vast majority of species are in Section Ruderalia and are mostly alien and thus not considered rare. After the easing of the 2020 lockdown, my partner and I took a walk near Sevenoaks and found an unusual looking Dandelion. I took a specimen and sent it off for an ID and it came back as Taraxacum gelertii , a Section Celtica plant rarely found in Kent. So that fired me up to have a look for them properly in 2021.    The Dandelion year only lasts from April to early May as plants change the shape of their leaves and mis-identifications can occur. As such, I started looking in early April. I initially found a Section