South-east Yorkshire, v.c. 61: News

News > 2019

Sunk Island Mop-up, TA21N&T(part)

8 Local Group members met at Stoney Creek on the penultimate field recording session of 2019 and for Atlas 2020. Although linear the line was broad with a range of habitats including salt marsh, flood defence bank grassland, borrow dyke and small woodland around derelict WWII buildings. In all we covered about 10 km (including the meanders) in strong wind and, for a while, driven rain. More than 100 taxa were recorded for the day. There were some additions to the hectad total, Babington’s Orache, Atriplex glabriuscula being a notable example, and there were many pre-2000 taxa put back on the map not least Melilotus altissimus. Specialist taxa included the hybrid couch Elytrigia x drucei occurring abundantly with one parent, Sea Couch E. atherica, which was confirmed later on collected material. A few plants of Rumex crispus ssp. littoreus were also noted and it was good to see Ononis spinosa in such quantity in both tetrads.

Post-script: This outing proved challenging for me and I thank those of you who hung back to ensure that I made it back perpendicularly. Medical advice will be sought on a number of issues although one is usually either dead or better before attending an appointment hereabouts!

Peter J Cook, 11 September

Heslington Tillmire

What a difference a week can make; our previous field meeting had suffered two bad-weather postponements before its cold and grey conclusion. This meeting enjoyed perfect summer weather throughout with no one daring to complain of the heat.

Our main recording effort was made on the northern, wetter part of the Tilmire which had only recently been vacated by its important ground-nesting birds. After a record-breaking wet June we were rather surprised by the dryness of the area, all maintaining dry feet and encountering little standing water. The highlights here were probably Marsh Cinquefoil (Comarum palustre) and Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), the leaves of which were abundant in some areas, and a single patch of flowering Bog Pimpernel (Anagallis tenella – above,top). The unusual (for vc61) acidic environment also provided us with some interesting grasses - Mat-grass (Nardus stricta), Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), Heath-grass (Danthonia decumbens) and sedges - Star Sedge (Carex echinata), Flea Sedge (C. pulicaris). We also encountered interesting plants on the surrounding higher land, which included a golf course - Greater Burnet-saxifrage (Pimpinella major), Heath Groundsel (Senecio sylvaticus), Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata) and Trailing St John's-wort (Hypericum humifusum – above bottom).

The drier eastern side of the Tilmire and its adjacent arable fields and ditches gave us an overall total of 190 taxa for the day.

Richard Middleton, 4 July

Driffield Millennium Green (King’s Mill Bottom) TA015576

Geranium x oxonianum On 10 June 2019 I braved a day of drizzle to botanize the Driffield Millennium Green. We crossed part of this 8.5 acre site last year on one of our Local Group meetings but concentrated our effort along the tree line bordering the Keld. We missed (if they were there then) a swathe of 200+ Dactylorrhiza purpurella, 20+ D. fuchsii and 2 D. maculata - if there is any real difference between them! Courting controversy, I note that Dactylorrhiza is now Dactylorchis and fuchsii is now a forma of Dactylorchis maculata. One day the taxonomy will be worth committing to memory.

A total of 131 taxa were recorded, some of which are escapes from neighbourhood gardens. One interesting though not particularly pretty or photogenic plant was Thurston’s Crane’s-bill, the thurstonianum forma of the hybrid of Geranium endressii x Geranium versicolor (Geranium x oxonianum). G. oxonianum has been recorded before in the vice county, but not this pathetic- looking form.

Peter Cook, 11 June 2019

Paris quadrifolia re-found in a wood near Nunburnholme

Herb Paris flower Last year, following a tip-off from Rob Jaques and with permission to visit the part of this quiet wood not given over to pheasants, John Killingbeck and I searched and failed to find Paris quadrifolia. However, on my next visit with Jackie Guthrie on 5 May we did manage to locate 2 colonies of approximately 30 and 70 plants respectively along the same barely- defined path. A grid reference was taken for each. A few days later John independently found the 2 colonies.

Today, on our return to monitor the plants John and I were pleased to find the original 2 colonies had increased in size to 60 and 100 plants approximately (they are close- packed and difficult to count). Even better, in the same area we came across a further 2 colonies of 50 and 20 plants, also a tiny outpost of smaller plants not yet in flower. As the colonies were mostly close together we took GPS readings for greater accuracy. It was good news. Paris quadrifolia was spreading. Disquietingly, however, we also found tracks of some sort of extreme-terrain vehicle ploughing through the narrow corridor where our plants were located and where tree cover (Beech, Ash, Field Maple and Wych Elm) was not so dense. It looked as if someone had been careering dow the steep slope. John thought the Bluebells, Wild Garlic and Herb Paris would recover, unless the vandalism was repeated. A passing visitor identified the probable culprits. At the Easter weekend she had nearly been mown down by a group of 4-5 youths on quad bikes speeding down the path.

In view of the danger to the rare plants in the wood John and I resolved to enlist Jackie’s help in monitoring the Paris quadrifolia and, if possible, persuading the farmer to block the entry point with a log. We shall be keeping a close eye on the situation and monitoring plant numbers.

Gabrielle Jarvis, 23 April 2019

Polygonum arenastrum (= depressum)

Picture of plants Left: P. arenastrum
Right: P. aviculare

Peter J Cook, 20 September

Handy loupe

Loup image Searching through the plethora of magnifying lenses and loupes available on Amazon I spotted this Fancii gadget which offers LED-lit x10, x20 and x30 magnifications on a tray that slides out from a protective case. There are many similar models giving x10, x30 and x60, but I cannot see much use for x60. All models are in the price range £3.99 to £14.99 but I suspect that the cheaper ones will have poor optics. I ordered the most expensive and I am pleased with it. The x10 and x20 lenses are excellent both with and without the LED illumination. The x30 aperture is small, difficult to line up with and to focus on the object but with practice I found it good for seeing individual cell shapes in mosses and stomata. A useful feature is a 'black light' for viewing for fluorescence under UV and I am hoping this will prove useful in lichen identification. I can highly recommend this type of loupe especially for people needing to wear reading glasses and I will gladly help anyone without access to Amazon to get one, just shout.

Peter J Cook, 14 September

SE64X and SE74B - Wheldrake and East Cottingwith

Trifid Bur-marigold My visit to this area in June 2015 was restricted in scope to avoid bird disturbance, especially in the potentially more interesting East Cottingwith area. However, my report (News 2015) commented that 117 taxa were recorded on only a very small part of SE74B. Our Local Group meeting set out to record over a larger area in this species-rich tetrad to boost the SE74 hectad total. The area we covered was within a monad in each of the two tetrads due to restricted access, although a new pathway with boardwalk leading to two new bird hides gave us satisfactory access to parts hitherto out of bounds.

The Ings meadows had undergone harvest and a summer flush of growth ('fog') was underway with extensive areas of Achillea ptarmica with scattered Silaum silaus and Thalictrum flavum. It was interesting to note that the June 2015 records show Hypochaeris radicata as an occasional inclusion in the meadow sward and now, in the approach to Autumn, this yellow composite is replaced by Scorzoneroides autumnalis. Tall swamp vegetation surrounding the lake consisted predominantly Glyceria maxima, in drier parts mixed with Impatiens capense, Phalaris arundinacea and Solanum dulcamara. On the landward marshy margin of the tall vegetation were frequent Bidens tripartita (above) and occasional Rorripa palustris. Only one sedge, Carex vesicaria, was found.

A single plant of Barbarea stricta was found alongside the approach track through tetrad SE64W and it is noteworthy that this is the first post-2000 record for a species that was once commonly recorded in the Derwent valley.

The combined list for the two monads was 102 taxa and the SE 64 and SE74 hectads were boosted by 4 species each.

Peter J Cook, 14 August 2019

TA14I and some cereal crop weed grasses

On 02/07/2019 I botanized within Tetrad TA14I gathering 148 taxa including Chara globularis. I noted especially a range of cereal crop weed grasses that are still under-recorded. We only have a couple of weeks left before barley is harvested and there is plenty of scope for making a significant contribution of new records. Barley crops seem clear of Barren Brome these days, its place taken by Black-grass (Alopecurus myosuroides), which is also troublesome in wheat. Field margins and corners may harbour Rye-brome (Bromus secalinus) with its large, nodding, brown inflorescences and thin caryopses like finger nails. Also, very large plants of Soft-brome with a long bottom peduncle and large anthers (B. hordeaceus ssp. longipedicelatus) should be recorded. I found Onion Couch on this excursion too. This used to be a subspecies of Arrhenatherum elatius but is now demoted to variety status. Very tall single culms of False oat-grass without rhizomes and the first few internodes contracted into thickened ’bulbs’ are recordable. There’s only two records in vc61 as of today so get looking! Italian Rye-grass, Lolium multiflorum, is scarce now that fewer grass leys are being sown but its genes are still around in its hybrid with Perennial Rye-grass, L. perenne. The hybrid is readily recognised as very tall ‘whips’ of ryegrass arching over barley ears. It should be examined before recording because only stands with short awns arising from plants with rolled young leaves are recordable as L. x boucheanum. Finally, a new cereal crop is being grown in Holderness (at least). It is the hybrid of Rye (Secale cereale) and wheat (Triticum aestivum). It is known as X Triticosecale rimpaui and it stands a fair chance of being a persistent self-sown or seed contaminant, cereal crop weed. I have seen unconfirmed culms of this towering above both barley and wheat that were confoundedly inaccessible so, who is going to be first to grab the first confirmed record?

Peter J Cook, 3 July

Plants seen on a roam in SE86

Wild Thyme This 'roam' was part a commercial survey in a little-recorded patch of hectad SE86, the location known only to Richard. The survey site includes a deep chalk dale with very steep East- and West-facing slopes rising from 80 to 150 metres. The cattle-grazed slopes on thicker soils support colourful variants of NVC CG2 (Festuca ovinaAvenula pratensis) grassland with the typical associates Sanguisorba minor, Lotus corniculatus, Leontodon hispidus, Prunella vulgaris, Campanula rotundifolia, Galium verum, Galium album ssp. mollugo, Pilosella officinarum, Thymus praecox, Polygalla vulgaris and Helianthemum nummularium, all of them abundant and in full bloom. Small areas of eroded thinner soils have some of the best NVC CG7 (Festuca ovina - Pilosella officinarumThymus praecox) grassland I have ever encountered with a rich community of associates including Linum catharticum and some of the above. Anacamptis pyramidalis and Primula veris occurred locally throughout and the grasses Cynosurus cristatus, Koeleria macrantha and Briza media were frequent. A total of 127 species was recorded but the real highlight was the large area covered by these rare, species-rich grasslands. Unfortunately both Tor and thorn are poised ready to spread, especially on the wetter West-facing slopes.

Peter Cook, 28 June

Ononis spinosa records

An identification problem has arisen that last arose in 1999 while working with Eva Crackles on Atlas 2000. We doubted the large number of records for O. spinosa across the vc. If one looks today at our distribution maps on the Atlas 2020 Progress tab you will see what I mean – it was recorded in 20 hectads. Phytogeographically this is feasible. We already have more than 60 species of the Eurosiberian Southern Temperate element resident in the vice county. Nationally, most records for O. spinosa are distributed to the SE side of a line drawn from Spurn to Bristol (see current online BSBI map). Some, if not all, of our pre 2000 records for O. spinosa are therefore dubious.

Since 2000 we have accumulated far fewer records for O. spinosa and I would like to think that this is because we have been more critical in our identifications. The half dozen records we have seen over 20 years are from along the North bank of the Humber estuary which correlates well with the National distribution. However, we could still be wrong in some of our determinations. O. spinosa need not be spiny (var. mitis) and O. repens can be spiny (var. horrida), so the two species cannot be differentiated solely on their degree of spiny-ness. Characters other than flower wing length relative to keel length are needed for accurate determination out of flowering season. Most botany texts give enough discriminatory information and by my reckoning there should be at least 4 characters available at any time of the year, and we should use as many as possible.

I will endeavour to re-find the Stone Creek plants, which I admit to agreeing based only on woodiness, upright posture and locale, and will I try to put to rest the harrowing question, do we really have this taxon in vc61?

Peter J Cook, 12 October

In Brief ...

On 27 August I spent couple of hours at the Buddhist meditation centre at Kilnwick Percy, SE84J, where I recorded a surprising 142 taxa while walking the woodland, walled garden and the outlying arable and pasture margins. There were no good finds or surprises but as a quiet place to escape the madding crowd and wander freely at any time of the year, it has potential to contribute to a high-scoring monad. I did not have time to walk round the lake.

Peter J Cook

Local Group meeting -
Reighton Cliffs

Following two postponements prompted by dire forecasts of torrential rain, this long-awaited visit finally took place. Despite the calendar, a fine drizzle and cold northerly wind provoked warm clothing (even gloves) before we could face three monads-worth of sea-cliff around Reighton Gap. But it was worth it …

Unlike the largely sheer margin of Holderness, the soft boulder-clay cliffs of Filey Bay are lubricated by numerous calcareous seepages and tend to slump into broad shallow steps, forming a botanically rich environment. In the course of our enthusiastic and somewhat athletic explorations of these cliffs we managed to log slightly over 200 taxa; not an enormous total but excellent considering the restricted environmental range and the physical area covered. What made it so good was that many of the plants are somewhat uncommon in the vice-county. The star plant must be Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia palustris above left), found by Gabrielle but later encountered in quantity with one-or-two precocious flowers tantalizingly close to opening. There were carpets of Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) interspersed with Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) and even, occasionally, Fragrant-orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea agg. above right). A more precise identification of the latter defied us. Other “good” finds included Slender St John's-wort (Hypericum pulchrum), Betony (Betonica officinalis), Burnet Rose (Rosa spinosissima), Bloody Crane's-bill (Geranium sanguineum), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Common Restharrow (Ononis repens) and Marsh Arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris).

In addition to this we encountered a fair number of plants which may have had their origins in the gardens of dwellings, now slipped over the cliff edge, which included Montbretia (Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora), Steeple-bush (Spiraea douglasii), Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) and Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa). Two newly constructed ponds on the cliff top just north of Reighton Gap contained some interesting plants including Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia) and Purple-loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) which were dutifully recorded but with the attached stigma of “planted”.

Richard Middleton, 27 June

Canals, Plants and People: a Yorkshire Perspective

Book cover This book by a local BSBI member, Ray Goulder, is about to be published by the People, Landscape and Cultural Environment Education and Research Centre. At £13.50 including postage.

Ray has worked extensively as a volunteer for the Canal & River Trust and has become increasingly focused on how the distribution and abundance of plants are related to the many ways in which people use and enjoy canals. In this book he explores how water plants in and alongside Yorkshire canals interact with human activity. Contents include: To obtain your copy download the order form here.

January 2019