Saturday, 17 November 2018

Lower Rainham Marshes area - Kent : 17/10/18

I recorded this area about a month before this trip and posted some nice photos of Dwarf Mallow that I found in an orchard. I was contacted on sicial media by a guy called Mark Hows asking where he could see these lovely little plants. I gave him the grid reference, always glad to share my finds.
This paid off, as when Mark visited the site he found another plant that I had overlooked the previous month (probably due to not being in flower), originally thought to be Strawberry Blite. He gave me directions to his find and I went to investigate further.

Completely unmissable when in fruit like this - the bright red fruits standing out in the grasses along the orchard field edge. 

I counted 12 flowering plants along about  a 20-30 metre border.

Each plant had several fruiting branches, and I counted around 60 such flowering branches in total.

I had sent Mark's original photo to the county recorder to verify the species, but that photo only included the fruits. Apparently there are two very similar plants this could be.

If it has leafless stems towards the tip it's Chenopodium capitatum (Syn. Blitum capitatum) or Strawberry Blight

However, as can be seen, these plants were leafy right to the tip, meaning they were  the other possibility, Leafy Goosefoot.

Chenopodium foliosum

I've posted several photos of this plant as it is an unusual find in the wild. This is only the second time it's been found in VC15 East Kent, with the first being found in a recorder's garden, though not planted by anyone. Every part of it is also edible and seeds can be bought online, so I expect to see this become a more common find as people give it a try in their gardens as a salad crop.

The other point of note is that there is nothing in Stace 3 regarding this species . I have ordered Stace volume 4 - I wonder if it will feature in this new and revised volume?

Here's a habitat photo showing the orchard and the boundary hedging comprising of a type of Leylandii and other shrubby plants.
I also found in this orchard lots of Green Amaranth, another unusual find in the wild.

It goes to show that social media, especially with subjects such as botany, can be so rewarding. I helped Mark find Dwarf Mallow and in return he led me to the Leafy Goosefoot, a plant I'd not seen before.

There was another plant very common in this orchard, but not that common elsewhere, the Small Nettle.

Most people think there's just the normal Stinging or Common Nettle. However, this is a more compact and usually paler green nettle with both male and female flowers on the same plant. It also has a much more powerful sting!

Then in damp places, look out for the Stingless or Fen Nettle which as the name suggests has very few stinging hairs which sting very weakly indeed. Its leaves are quite long and narrow compared to Stinging Nettles.

A big stand of Small Nettles.

Urtica urens

We then left this area and drove east until we came to Barksore Marshes on the banks of the tidal River Medway, just west of the Isle of Sheppey. There were some records in this area, but recorded at a different time of the year, so I spent a half hour recording what I found in the area - most of which were new records for the monad.

One of my favourite "weeds" is Scarlet Pimpernel, found here in abundance. There are several forms and sub species to find as well. This one is the usual form and is called:

Anagallis arvensis subspecies arvensis, forma arvensis

Here was a nice surprise which I don't find very often. The small but intense blue flowers of Bugloss subtly tinged with lilac.

Not to be confused with Viper's Bugloss or Purple Bugloss.

Anchusa arvensis

Perforate St John's wort was found here and there, however, these were small, stunted plants growing in thin soils under heavy rabbit grazing pressure. Usually they are a couple of feet tall and upright. It was still nice to see them in flower in mid October though
(I saw more in flower near Sevenoaks on 04/11/18).

Hypericum perforatum

Black Horehound is a very common plant found almost everywhere in Kent. It has the distinctive flowers found in related plants such as the Dead Nettles and Archangels, (of the Lamiaceae family - Mints and Dead-nettles) but in a beautiful lilac colour with white veins streaking through them.

Being a three dimesnional flower they are surprisingly difficult to photograph in macro due to depth of field problems, but I was pleased with this effort.

Ballota nigra

Flowers aren't always big, showy or obvious. This tiny Buckshorn Plantain is a very common plant, but overlooked by most. Found in poor soils around the coasts and pavements and verges of salted roads. In winter, the basal rosette forms a beautiful circle of stag horn like leaves, watch out for it.

Plantago coronopus

Here is Creeping Cinquefoil with its bright golden yellow flowers, offset by the reddening of its anthers. Its leaves are the ones to the far right of the photo, with the leaves around the flower belonging to Scarlet Pimpernels.

Potentilla reptans

I found all of these flowers in the short turf close to the high tide mark of the marshes.

Many can also be found in your own lawn like this Selfheal, mostly a small plant only a few inches tall with tiny but perfect purple flowers.

In shady areas I have found them up to 2 feet tall and also with pink or white flowers.

Prunella vulgaris

There's always other things to see such as this Shaggy Inkcap toadstool arising from some St John's wort.

Coprinus comatus

All three sowthistles were present.. This one was Prickly Sowthistle.

Smooth and Perennial were also found.

Sonchus asper

Some tiny blue specks in the grass turned out to be Wall Speedwell.

Veronica montana

Of course, the salt marsh areas were full of Sea Aster, Golden Samphire, Lesser and Greater Sea Spurries, but I've featured them recently in other blogs, so I'll confine the salt marsh plants to just one.

Annual Sea Blite which often redden dramatically as they age and turn the upper salt marsh red!

Suaeda maritima

So ended another very interesting botanical trip - all done in a few hours before work.

Take care

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