Monday, 30 April 2018

Hastings area - 02/04/18

This was really a day out to Battle Abbey with the grand children but I managed to find a few plants of interest as we drove around the area, though this will be a short blog.

First find was a Cut-Leaved Dead Nettle, much harder to find than the usual Red Dead-Nettle.

It's leaves are heavily serrated with big teeth and once you see one, you won't mistake a normal Red Dead-Nettle for this again.

Lamium hybridum

I found it by a concrete block at the River Rother flood barrier which stops the tide from going further inland, just north of Rye. Here's a habitat photo.

All the following plants were found on Hastings sea front at the far Eastern end by the cliffs and boatyard. Those who know Hastings will know the area just from this view.

Thrift always grows on the soil at the base of the cliffs, though at this time, it wasn't quite in flower yet.

Armeria maritima

Above the public toilets, Wallflowers decorated the cliffs. Obviously I couldn't get close to these, so used a telephoto lens.

There was a patch of this orange coloured form as well.

 Erysium cheiri

The sea itself is always worthy of some photos.

Anyone who eats their fish and chips on the beach has to keep an eye out for these chip thieves!


The final plant was the highlight of the day and it's not even a native plant.

I'd not seen one before so didn't know what it was.

It's quite obviously a Euphorbia, but the weird pointed leaves had me flummoxed. 

Here's a mini habitat photo where it was growing on the shingle on the fence line of the boat yard. 

Friends keeping it company included Bristly Oxtongue, Common Chickweed and Cleavers.

This photo shows the leaves well, very glaucous (smooth and green/blue in colour). 

Once home out came the books and I found it to beGlaucous or Myrtle Spurge. This apparently is a new botanical record for this monad, though it has been found in other Sussex seaside locations. As such, I expect it to become common place on those beaches within say ten years.

Euphorbia myrsinites

It's apparently native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, from Italy east through the Balkans to the Crimea and Turkey. It does not tolerate wet soil or prolonged drought, so I guess coastal shingle is perfect for it. Unfortunately, in some countries, such as the USA it has become rampant in the wild and declared an invasive alien.

That's about it, hope you enjoyed this short blog.



Sunday, 22 April 2018

Botanical Recording around Matfield, Kent - 01/04/18

Spring was well under way at this time, with the Beast from the East fading into recent memory. I did a circular walk around Matfield in Kent and here's what I photographed on the trip.

The first of the Wood Anemones were coming into flower and at the time of writing (22/04/18) they now carpet many woodland floors.

Anemone nemorosa

I always seem to miss them when the leaves appear, then suddenly there's loads of flowers everywhere. They must grow form nothing to full flower very quickly.

In a wood that backed onto gardens I found a relative of the Wood Anemone naturalised along the path.

There are two species of garden anemone that are frequently found in the wild and they look almost identical apart from one having hairy underside to the petals (anemone apennina) and this glabrous form.

Anemone blanda

This Thale Cress is not the most attractive crucifer around and it mostly goes unnoticed. however, it was the first plant that had its entire genome mapped.

Arabidoptis thaliana

On a path around a woodland edge but near habitation was a huge stand of 2 metre plus tall Bamboo!
The original clump may have been planted, but it had spread over many metres and across the path into the field.

Arundinarieae agg.

Cuckooflowers are out now in force but this was the first I'd seen in flower this Spring, though there were numerous plants in bud along the way.

Cardamine pratensis

Along the banks of a small stream were carpets of Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage, their golden anthers looking like tiny petals from standing height.

Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

There must be millions of these Danish Scurvygrass plants now flowering along most of the M and A roads of Kent. In some places they look like snow drifts along the road there's so many.

However, in sleepy Matfield there were just a few clumps here and there along the main road through the village.

Cochlearia danica

I was surprised to find some Common Ramping Fumitory in a front garden, but then most fumitories will take advantage of disturbed soil. I often find these in waste ground and lay byes.

Fumaria muralis

Very easy to miss are the tiny flowers of Barren Strawberry.

Potentilla sterilis

Blachthorn and Cherry Plum were both in flower, but this is the latter. No thorns and shoots are green.

Prunus cerasifera

In a very wet field nowhere near habitation was a stand of Lungwort. How it got there I have no idea but it was nice to see.

Pulmonaria officinalis

Another escapee was this Flowering Currant which I often see in the wild now in Kent.

Ribes sanguineaum

Willows are now in flower but without leaves I can't identify the smaller species. However, this one was obviously from a very large Crack Willow tree.

Salix fragilis

And this was either a Goat, Grey or hybrid willow.

Lesser Periwinkle is a naturalised garden plant that I don't often see, with Greater Periwinkle being the most common. However, all around Matfield were populations of Lesser. Their flowers are quite a bit smaller than Greater and the leaves have no tiny hairs around the margins.

Vinca minor

I hope you liked the selection I found on this trip, there's lots more wildflowers to come very soon.

Take care

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Kent Wildlife Trust Sevenoaks Reserve - 21/03/18

The cold has affected most of the UK with spring flowering species 2-3 weeks behind last year's flowering times. However, that isn't an excuse to sit indoors and wait for those warm spring days, so out we went to this reserve near Sevenoaks. It comprises several flooded old gravel pits with p aths around much of them. It's best known for birding and at this time of year I will photograph anything of interest within nature that I can find.

On a path that caught the sun were the first Ground- Ivy plants I had seen in flower this year.

They're quite small at this time of the year, smaller than the Sweet Violets now out and easily missed.

Glechoma hederifolia

I spotted the first Lesser Celandine in flower on 1st January 2018 on the BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt on the coast at Folkestone. However, it is only from now onwards that this plant flowers en masse.

Huge drifts of them can now be seen on  many roadside verges and woodland paths.

There are a couple of sub species that can only be accurately determined once the plant has fully matured. Bubils will form in the axils (where the stem forks) between the leaf stems. These are subspecies verna and usually have smaller sorry looking flowers and pale leaves (but not always). It may or may not seed a few seeds.

Subspecies fertilis has no bubils and usually bigger flowers and sometimes marbled leaves and a full head of fruits after flowering.

Ficaria verna

This is Green Alkanet, a garden plant that rapidly escaped into the wild and is now widespread in the countryside. I would say that I rarely find it too far away from habitation or a fly tipped road verge.

This colony on the reserve isn't too far from the car park and were probably established from fly tipping in the 1960s before it became a nature reserve.

 Pentaglottis sempervirens

This species can be identified without flowers from the rough hairy leaves which have small silver coloured blisters on them.

We had some company along the way from this Robin

We also saw this Blue Tit, Great and Long-tailed Tits and Siskins, the latter kindly shown to me by a birder when I asked about his rather long lens!

In sunnier spots not swamped by the ever present stinging nettles were patches of Primrose, a lovely native Spring flower found in many woodlands and road verges now.

Primula vulgaris

Perhaps the botanical highlight of the walk was spotting a large clump of native Marsh Marigold in flower on the banks of the river Darent. Unfortunately it was on the opposite bank in an out of bounds area, so I couldn't get any close up photos.
This species is often planted as an ornamental, and why not, it's big, brashy and native, a perfect garden water feature plant.

Caltha palustris

If you look closely at the photo below this Heron has made its nest on an Alder tree with its catkins now out and draping down. The nutlet cases of last year's flowering still hanging dried and dark on the trees.

Alnus glutinosa

That was it for the plants, here are some other nature finds from the walk.

A single Lapwing (at range) among hundreds of gulls.

A common Magpie with its beautiful metallic plumage that is only visible up close.

A representative from the kingdom of fungi, the beautiful Scarlet Elf Cup.

These are fairly common on the reserve and I found them around most of the main paths. They particularly like rotting Silver Birch logs.  There are also earthstars here but I didn't see any today.

That was it, not too many wildflowers yet, but in a few weeks there will be an explosion of colour in the wilder parts of the countryside. This will include Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrel, Greater Stitchwort and much much more. Bees and butterflies, beetles and bugs will also burst forth in numbers.
So become a part of it, get out and about, breathe in the fresh Spring air and replenish your soul in your local woodland soon. It's well worth it.