Sunday, 4 March 2018

Early Spring Botanical Recording nr Shorne Kent - 18/02/18

This was my last outing before the very cold weather arrived with its copious amounts of snow, ice and biting Easterly winds. I was recording in TQ6969 North of Shorne. I found plenty of records in a completly unrecorded monad and will return later in the year to add to them.

As much of the area I recorded was next to the A2, it wasn't very picturesque so I only took photos of the flowers, so here goes.



Early Spring is the time Common Whitlowgrass comes into flower, but unless you have very good eyesight or frequently get down on your knees you'll miss them. The flowers are only a few millimetres across.




Erophila verna











A scruffy Dovesfoot Cranesbill in flower in the roadside verge.

Geranium molle



 






These Hairy Bittercress also have very small flowers and were interspersed with the Common Whitlowgrass, like small white dots in the road verge edges.






Cardamine hirsuta









The wonder of a macro lens is that it can make small things look big!

this is the small flower of Common Storksbill, another common plant found in short turf.





Erodium cicutarium



 Next I found two large Daisy plants that looked very much the same, but they weren't!

 

This one was the usual Ox-eye Daisy, often seen in their thousands along roadsides in May.




Leucanthemum vulgare




But this one had a much larger flower and is a garden escape hybrid called the Shasta Daisy.


Leucanthemum x superbum

(love the name!)







There's a third type as well, but how do you spot the differences?








A very large flower size gives away the Shasta Daisy, but the stem and basal leaves are best to determine the species properly. Below is a photo of a page from Stace 3 that clearly shows the differerences between them all. I've taped a copy of this into my Harapps Wildflowers book as well.


 Credit - Prof. Clive Stace



So not all big daisies are Ox-eye Daisies!




The next plant was a nice surpise, a rosette of a Bee Orchid, a single plant growing along the North verge of a road parallel to the A2. They can be confused with Ribwort Plantain and Common Centaury rosettes as well, but orchid rosettes do look different! Honestly. Looking at this specimen, I think rabbits like them as well.

Ophrys apifera


I looked all over for a Primrose, but they eluded me in this monad. However, I did find this loner all by itself, an early flowering Cowslip.


 Primula veris


 As I walked through a small piece of woodland, I was distracted by these brightly coloured, though small, Scarlet Elf Cups. I'd only seen these before at Sevenoaks Nature Reserve, so I thought them a nice find. They seem to like long dead, damp and rotting Silver Birch branches!


Sarcoscypha austriaca



 It was actually an almost sunny day, though clouding over rapidly, but the sun brought the petals fully out on this and other Common Field Speedwells beautifully.

Veronica persica




In the shade of some young trees I found my first Kent Sweet Violets in flower, there were over a hundred in a small area.

Though these are supposed to be scented, I've yet to notice any scent. Maybe they smell nicer in the evening and moths pollinate them?



















Viola odorata


That was the last flowering plant I photographed, though I saw and recorded lots more (such as Common Ragwort, Groundsel, Shepherd's Purse, etc) and many more again without flowers (Ivy, Plantains, etc.  However, as I walked back to my car, I surveyed the opposite road verge which faced North. Being shaded I didn't think I'd find much, but as I walked along I saw the odd Bee Orchid rosette, then another and another, then huge patches of them!


It is doubtful that any will flower though. They are on a road verge and they will be mowed relentlessly from May onwards. It's ironic that the mowing creates a habitat for them to compete, but also prevents them from flowering. I've written to Kent County Council via email in the vain hope they might instigate a wildlife friendly mowing regime here, but I'm not holding my breath!
Here's what a Bee Orchid flower can look like, if the mowers hold off during May/June. Imagine hundreds of them flowering along a road verge like those above?


 That;s it for now, my next blog will cover some rather extreme botany!

Take Care
Dave
@Barbus59











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