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
Dave
@Barbus59

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. Saw loads of rather lovely Buck's-horn Plantain rosettes this week on Little Orme, Llandudno. No flowers though which is perhaps surprising as I found some Sea Campion in bloom which Harrap says should be over by end of August! Sending very best wishes for your recovery.

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  2. One thing I learned fairly quickly was that wildflowers don't read books, so can end up being in flower at any time of the year when conditions are right for that particular plant. Mowing can also push a plant into flower out of season. If you follow the BSBI #newyearplanthunt on Twitter you will see an amazing amount of species in flower over the new year period.
    Regards
    Dave

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