Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hampshire Violaceae completed

A visit to Bartley Heath just off the M3 at the Hook junction yielded the last two species of violet growing in North Hampshire.  These were the two heath violets, Viola lactea and Viola canina.  

Viola lactea, Bartley Heath
This completes the eight species growing in the area and meant that I could complete illustrating the revised key to the species, which is now published here -  I know it is rather unorthodox to publish under "insect keys" but it saves effort on my part as the site was already in use.  I expect I'll rationalize it all given time.

Again the season is not particularly conducive to getting out and about but the total is gradually creeping up, going up by one today with spotting Sisymbrium orientale growing at the edge of the car park of B&Q in Basingstoke. 

528 species, 43.5%

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Lovely display of Symphytum x hidcotense

On the way through Old Basing stopped off for a few minutes on Newnham Lane as it passes close to the River Loddon.  Found a lovely display of the comfrey variety Symphytum x hidcotense growing on the flood plain.  The red flower buds contrast beautifully with the pale blue to white petals of the opened flowers.  In the same area were Malus sylvestris and Salix viminalis in flower which I'd recorded in leaf before.  

Total 511

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Common plants that have passed me by

It is strange that some plants that are really common get missed.  I've been interested in the local flora for a long time and yet I'm still seeing plants for the first time that I really should have seen had I been more observant.  A recent example of this is Erophila verna, the Common Whitlow Grass.  It is found throughout Hampshire and yet I have never knowingly seen it.  It gets its name from reputed healing properties of whitlows (an infection on the fingers).  Since seeing it on the kerbside near the Brighton Hill shopping centre, Basingstoke, I have seen it at Silchester, Odiham and Ellisfield.  It is very easy to identify with its basal whorl of leaves from which the completely leafless flower stalks arise.  The four petals are deeply divided giving the impression that it has eight petals.  Similar species have leaves on the flowering stems.

A brief visit to the Roman walls at Silchester yielded a second common species that I'd not seen before, the Field Forget-me-not, Myosotis arvensis.  

My list now stands at 507 which is just under 42%.

Erophila verna at Brighton Hill

Monday, 22 April 2013

Toothwort found

Along with most botanists and gardeners I've been waiting for spring to get started.  We in fact cheated by popping off to Kos in the Aegean for the Easter break and at least returned to the current improvement in the weather.  Before going off to Kos I put together ID keys to all the plants that grow there and managed to find and photograph in excess of 200 of them while we were away.  This included a superb sawfly-mimicking orchid illustrated below.

This evening I popped out to a spot on the southern edge of Worting Woods just north west of Basingstoke to try to find the toothwort this year having failed last spring.  I took my two year old grandson with me having shown him the illustration in my plant book.  We found three spikes under hazel bushes and the identification was confirmed by my companion.  The adjacent field is possibly zoned for housing development and I would be concerned that this sensitive species would survive.

Lathraea squamaria (toothwort), parasitic on hazel

Ophrys speculum on Kalimnos, East Aegean.  Rather atypical as the brown margin of the "abdomen" is tucked round behind the purple mirrored section