Friday, 9 November 2018

Platt nr Sevenoaks, Kent - 07/10/18

What is nice about botanical recording is that every week thrughout the year I go somewhere different, so as to record as many monads as possible for the BSBI 2020 atlas. Platt is not an area I would normally think to have a walk in, but my route took me into some picturesque and peaceful countryside, which combined with the colours of early autumn were simply beautiful. 

Of course, as Autumn progresses, things other than plants pop up here and there.

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

The weak sunlight appears intensified in the flowers of Sun Spurge - aptly named and found in many field edges.

Euphorbia helioscopia

How often do I closely look at a Hogweed flowering in the Summer? Yet when they become fewer as the Autumn progresses, my heart is warmed by the sight of any wildflower and this Hogweed looked stunning. You can often find delightful pink flowered forms at this time of the year as well.

Heracleum sphondylium

Early Autumn is the time when Hawkweeds become abundant in the rural lanes of Kent. There are numerous micro species and I wouldn't know how to separate them out.

Hieracium agg.

A solitary but large Geranium in a road verge caught my eye.

I'd seen this several times before, so knew it's identify straight away.

It's the hybrid between French and Pencilled Cranesbills, a garden escape called Druce's Cranesbill.

Geranium endressii x versicolor = G. x oxonianum

Near a manure heap were numerous Chenopodiums growing. 

There were over 20 plants and no two had the same shaped leaves, upper or lower.

Chenopodium rubrum

Both Chenopodiums and Atriplex have highly variable leaves and other characteristics need to be looked at as well.

A process of elimination and some help from other botanists, led to the ID of Red Goosefoot.

A Holly tree was reminding me that it will all too soon be the season to be jolly!

Ilex aquifolium

The bright yellow compact flowers of Tutsan, along with their reddening berries make them a big hit with gardeners.

However they are a native species and often found in woodland edges, like this one was. Planted by nature!

Hypericum androsaemum

It's nice coming across a stand of bright yellow Goldenrod flowers, all the more so as they are a Kent RPR species and in decline.

Solidago virgaurea

The red/pink flower heads of Redshank. This photo also shows the typical leaves with their dark blotches midway along them. However, Redshank and Pale Persicaria are very close in form. Both can have the same colour flowers and have the same leaves. Always check out where the leaf stalks join the stem.

If you find a fringe of hairs along the top edge you have Redshank, if not then it's Pale Persicaria.


Persicaria maculosa

Another fine Autumnal view from an arable field near Platt looking north to the chalky North downs at Wrotham Hill.

Hops are a common sight in West and North Kent and very noticable once the fruit (hop) forms. If there are no fruits to be seen, look for massive 3 lobed leaves climbing through hedgerows and road verges.

Humulus lupulus

This fine small flower is one I usually see on the chalk turf or in thin turf on the coast.

It's hairy mouse ear shaped leaves give it its name of
Mouse-ear Hawkweed

This was found in a churchyard where its wall met the rural road.

Pilosella officinarum

Another road verge nearby produced some of its relatives, though coloured bright orange with fiery flowers. The naturalised beauty of Fox and Cubs.

Pilosella aurantica

An arable field had a lot of these Wild Radish growing in it, no doubt originally planted as part of a fodder crop. This species tends to persist though for many years after sowing.

Raphanus raphanistrum

This is Hedge Mustard. It's very easy to identify as it has clusters of extremely small yellow flowers at the tip of the plant and quite large triangular lobed lower leaves.

 Sisymbrium officinale

It's very common, but rather hard to photograph in the wild. The slightest breath of wind produces a blurred photo at this sort of magnification.

Scentless Mayweed seems to be present in most field edges, whether sprayed or not. They have a delightful moderate sized daisy like flower that brightens up the fields even into the frosty weather.

Tripleurospermum inodorum

A road verge Bush Vetch was the last plant I photographed. These also will flower until the frosts arrive.

Vicia sepium

Autumn is amazing but so transient. Once the leaves turn and look beautiful it seems they are then fallen and gone so quickly, leaving bare trees for months on end thereafter.

I certainly enjoyed this walk and I hope I helped take you there in your imagination to this quiet and peaceful part of West Kent.

Take care

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Longfield Chalk Bank - Kent - 28/09/18

This chalk bank is my local reserve and I walk it from time to time. It throws up some surprises as well as the usual plants. in the past I've found Knapweed Broomrape and Fine-leaved Vetch here.

Of course, on the walk there I'm observant to any plants growing out of pavements cracks and the like, such as this Snapdragon.

Antirrhinum majus

Here's a habitat shot. It was also  present in a nearby garden.

Another pavement plant was Shaggy Soldier.

 Galinsoga quadriradiata 

This could also be Gallant Soldier which is a much less hairer version of this plant. Exact determination is by examining the lobes of the chaffy scales between the florets.

Also growing out of a pavement crack was this beautifully pastel flowered form of Purple Toadflax.

I've seen this form a few times, but they are unusual.

Linaria purpurea

It's incredible how new plants can just pop up out of nowhere, or so it seems. I've walked this path many times and never seen this grass before.

Setaria pumila

I think this is Yellow Bristle Grass with its nutlets all dropped off.

After all this excitement I finally made it on to the reserve itself.

Lesser Burdock
Arctium minus

Black Horehound
Ballota nigra

The colourful fruits of White Bryony
Bryonia dioica

Cichorium intybus

After some time trying, I finally got some photos of the Ivy  Bee, a recent colonist to the UK.

Colletes hederae

An Eyebright in the shorter grassed areas.
Euphrasia agg

Dogwood putting on its second flowering display of the year.
Cornus sanguinea

Common Toadflax
Linaria vulgaris

Field Scabious
Knautia arvensis

The beauty of  Dandelions is they keep on inspiring even when in seed.
Taraxacum agg

I've saved the best find to last.

I last found this plant growing here in 2013 and not seen it since.

It's Basil Thyme, a Kent RPR species.

It grows in poor soils where competition is limited. It also needs disturbance to germinate.

There is only one small area suitable in this reserve with very short turf, so little competition from other plants.

The required disturbance was caused by rabbits digging.
 Clinipodium acinos

This walk showed me that there are always surprises in nature; whether it's finding new species growing out of pavements or the re-appearance of a rare wildflower, it's all fantastic to see.

Tale care