Source Lancashire Botany Group

Marsh side Field Trip


Sixteen members and friends met at the RSPB carpark, Marshside, from where the group encamped to Hesketh Road about 1km to the south-west to begin an exploration of the recently developed tidal saltmarsh at the mouth of the Ribble Estuary. The leaders, Phil Smith and Patricia Lockwood, first pointed out a number of young willow bushes growing out of cracks in the concrete seawall. These included the nationally rare Salix×friesiana, as well as a much more frequent hybrid, thought to be Salix ×holosericea (Silky-leaved Osier). 
Descending to the saltmarsh, we were soon trying to unravel the complexities of Salicornia (Glasswort) identification. Four reasonably distinct taxa were quickly found – the red-tinged Purple Glasswort S. ramosissima, bright-green Common Glasswort S. europaea, dull-green Long-stalked Glasswort S. dolichostachya and the golden Yellow Glasswort S. fragilis. A little more searching revealed Common and Lax-flowered Sea-lavenders Limonium vulgare and L. humile, though both had finished flowering. A short walk fortuitously brought us to a specimen of the rare hybrid sea-lavender L. ×neumanii, which still retained many of its distinctive magenta flowers. Phil described his researches with Patricia into the sea-lavenders since 2008, when only a handful of plants were found. This summer, over 230 individuals of the three taxa were recorded. 
Other typical species of the saltmarsh included scattered plants of Sea Purslane Atriplex portulacoides, the ubiquitous Sea Aster Aster tripolium now mainly in seed, Annual Sea-blite Suaeda maritima, Sea Plantain Plantago maritima and the superficially similar Sea Arrow-grass Triglochin maritima. These were growing out of a dense sward of Common Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia maritima, interspersed with scattered Common Cord-grass Spartina anglica
Returning towards the seawall, we spent some time exploring an accumulation of shell-rich sand where a well-developed strandline supported several plants of Babington’s Orache Atriplex glabriuscula as well as masses of the more usual Spear-leaved Orache A. prostrata and occasional plants of Grass-leaved Orache A. littoralis. Sea Sandwort Honckenya peploides was also a feature of this bank. Closer examination eventually revealed a few specimens of the uncommon hybrid Kattegat Orache Atriplex ×gustafssoniana. Being a plant that most participants had not seen before, this was one of the highlights of the trip. All the target species having been found, the group headed back well pleased with the afternoon’s entertainment.

Philip H. Smith

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Source Lancashire Botany Group

Wyre Way Field Trip

Sea Rocket
Our meeting point was close to Rossall Point at Fleetwood where the group assembled at 10.15 in conjunction with members of Liverpool Botanical Society.  One member had made the journey up from Shropshire and, after a great day, was delighted to have made the trip.  
The walk was led by Eric Greenwood who generously shared with us his amazing knowledge of all things botanical though, as one member of the group at Yarrow Valley on Thursday pointed out, "you can only learn five new plants in one day". For me our day was full of interesting new plants so my priority was lots of notes,  photographs and grid references to try and help my ageing brain retain some of the information.

Amongst my sightings at Rossall Point were Sea Spurge, Sea Bindweed, Sea Holly, Wild Carrot, Bloody Crane's-bill, Dewberry, Lesser Burdock, Black Medick, Lady's Bedstraw, Duke of Argyl's Teaplant, Strawberry Clover.  

There were many grasses to be identified with Eric's help including:Lyme Grass, Couch Grass, Soft Brome, False Oat, Marram, False Brome, Rough Stemmed Meadow Grass.

After lunch in the sunshine alongside the Rossall Point observatory and learning about its history from the Wyre wardens on site we continued our walk alongside Fleetwood Golf course resisting the temptation to climb over the fence to examine some of the interesting species to be seen in the rough.

We returned to our cars for the short journey to Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park  to see some of the plants for this sea washed  habitat including two species of Sea Lavender .

Sea Lavender Limonium vulgare
We were all grateful to have the opportunity to learn so much from Eric Greenwood and look forward to more field trips in conjunction with Liverpool Botanical Society and the Wildflower Society in the future. Eric's report of the field trip follows:

Field meeting report, FLEETWOOD 18 JULY 2015

On a bright but windy day thirteen members of Liverpool Botanical Society and The Lancashire Botany Group met at one of Fleetwood’s promenade car parks. After a brief introduction by the leader, Eric Greenwood, the party set off to explore the mobile and fore dunes that had formed in front of the promenade.

Although relatively species poor, a number of interesting species had colonized the dunes. These included an abundance of Sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum), Field Bindweed (Convolulus arvensis) mostly the white flowered forma arvensis, and Sand Cat’s-tail (Phleum arenarium). A feature of these dunes was the abundance of Sea Bindweed (Calystegia soldanella) just coming into full flower.

On the fore dunes the presence Sand Couch (Elytrigia juncea) provided an opportunity to demonstrate what to look for in identifying grasses. There was also an abundance of Ray’s Knotgrass (Polygonum oxyspermum) on the beach together with various Orache species; most were thought to be Frosted Orache (Atriplex laciniata).

After exploring the dunes the high winds provided an opportunity to examine grass-like plants that had been washed out of the small boating pool. These were Beaked Tasselweed (Ruppia maritima). The sandy banks on the north side of the pool revealed Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass (Poa angustifolia), a rare but perhaps overlooked Lancashire species. Earlier its close relative, Spreading Meadow-grass (Poa humilis) was recorded on the dunes.

The party proceeded along the Wyre Way by the side of Fleetwood Golf Course admiring the splashes of colour provided by Bloody Crane’s-bill (Geranium sanguineum) on the dune grassland. Lunch was taken in the shelter of the visitor centre at Rossall Point.

Eventually a sea wall provided some shelter and at the same time conditions became more saline. Identifying grasses became ever more important and difficult. A feature of the Lancashire coast is the presence of Elytrigia hybrids and two of the most frequent were seen in large patches. These were Elytrigia x drucei and Elytrigia x acuta, both involving Sea Couch (Elytrigia atherica) as one parent and which has not been found in the region. Other notable grasses seen were Common and Reflexed Saltmarsh-grasses (Puccinellia maritima and P. distans), Sea Fern-grass (Catapodium maritimum) and Fern-grass (Catapodium rigidum) and Hard-grass. Also noteworthy was Stawberry Clover (Trifolium fragiferum). 

On the road-walk back to the car park Grey Field-speedwell (Veronica polita), Henbit Dead-nettle (Lamium amplexicaule) and possibly Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) were spotted.

In the afternoon Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve was visited. Amongst the notable species seen were Small-flowered Crane’s-bill  (Geranium pusillum), Brown Bent (Agrostis vineale)and a salt marsh dominated by Sea-purslane (Atriplex  portulacoides) with purple patches of Common and Lax-flowered Sea-lavenders (Limonium vulgare and L. humile). Members were also able to check the differences between Greater and Lesser Sea-spurrey (Spergularia media and S. marina) and Common Couch  (Elytrigia repens) and Elytrigia x drucei, seen earlier in the day but here forming extensive zones at the top of the marsh. 

Eric Greenwood

July 2015

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Yarrow Valley Country Park

In conjunction with the Wild Flower Society the walk around Chorley's Yarrow Valley Country Park  led by Julie Clark and local guide Carol  was a perfect day.  The weather was fine and in contrast to so many of our trips we didn't have a drop of rain.

Our target species for the day was Green Figwort or Water Betony Scrophularia umbrosa and as we approached the end of our walk Carol was able to put us in exactly the right place to enjoy this sighting which was new to many members of the party.

During the walk around the Country Park, which I thought I knew well, Carol showed us parts that were completely new to me.

I didn't compare notes at the end of the day but I was able to record 93 species of flowers, sedges, ferns and grasses which included the rose sub species of Hogweed, Remote Sedge, Giant Horsetail, Zig Zag Clover, Twayblade, Skullcap, Marsh Ragwort, Pyramidal Orchid and Broad Leaved Helleborine.

The next walk on Saturday 18th of July will be led by Eric Greenwood and taking a look at the flora of the Wyre Way

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Gait Barrows NNR

Rob Petley-Jones ( Second from right
Despite the dreadful weather forecast and the downpours we experienced driving north the Gail Barrows we enjoyed an almost rain free day with on and off sunshine. We were met by Rob Petley-Jones, area reserves manager for Natural England, who had opened the access gate to allow us to park in the centre of the reserve. After a brief introduction Rob escorted us round the site pointing out many of the specialities growing in the deep fissures, grimes, of the limestone pavement. Even the car parking area was a mass of Rock Roses and Wild Thyme  were White-tailed bees were foraging amongst the flowers. 
As a positive tyro to the world of botany I stand back in awe at the breadth of knowledge within the group, not only flowers but mosses, grasses, sedges, butterflies, moths and birds are readily identified. Many recognised instantly but field guides were on constant use during the day to separate similar species. David Earl, BSBI Recorder for Lancashire, was leading the remainder of the walk which took in the area surrounding Hawes Water and shared his extensive knowledge and encouraged novices such as myself to work through the various indicators to identify species new to us. 
Rock Rose & Wild Thyme
This Dark Red Helleborine Epipactis atrorubens growing in grike of limestone pavement was just one of the many species seen including Wood Sage Teucrium scorodnia, Heath Speedwell Veronica officinalis, Hairy Violet hirta, Pale St John's-wort Hypericum montanum.

The next field trip is shared with the Wild Flower Society to Yarrow Valley Country Park in Chorley and will be led by Julie Clarke.

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Wildflower Survey in Yarrow Valley C.P.

PictureEmerging leaf of Impatiens Noli tangere
The Bio Diversity Society  Group met at Lancashire's Yarrow Valley Country Park to survey the flora of Burgh Wood which rises steeply above the Big Lodge taking the group away from the footpaths that would normally be crowded with dog walkers and visitors to the park.  Today, however, constant rain had kept all but the most determined indoors and we had the area very much to ourselves.
We were supported by David Earl, BSBI Recorder for the two vice counties of Lancashire, VC59 & VC 60 who guided us through the identification processes and determined our findings.
These included:

Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera, Dog's Mercury Mercurialis perennis, Touch-me-not Balsam Impatiens noli tangere, Water Crowfoot Ranunculus aquatilis, Thornless Blackberry Rubus canadiensis, Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris, Hybrid Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta x H. hispanica, Three-nerved Sandwort Moehringia trinervia, Large Bitter Cress Cardamine amara, Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata, Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris, Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium, Ramsons Allium ursinum, Opposite Leaved Golden Saxifrage Chrysoplenium oppositifolium, Enchanters Nightshade Circaea lutetiana, Field Horsetail Equisetum arvense, Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannibinum, Herb Robert Geranium robertianum, Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea, Water Avon Geranium rivale, Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi.

However when transcribing my notes a this point my notepad gave out having been soaked through in the unrelenting rain and the remainder of my finds must remain a mystery. David Earl reminds me though that despite the rain over 100 species were recorded in Burgh Wood.

This part of the Biological Heritage Site contains a wealth of species that deserve closer attention and I will be returning armed, perhaps with a waterproof notebook, and camera to record more Chorley's valuable flora.

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Getting to grips with wildflower keys

Kevin Widdowson, Education Officer at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts's Idle Valley Reserve has set up a closed Facebook group to help people learning to ID wildflowers using France Rose's Wildflower Key.

You can share your tribulations with others in the group as you learn the botanist's vocabulary and find your way  through the couplets to the plant family and then on to the species you are working on.
I have just successfully worked my way to the answer with plants that I knew well,  Lesser Celandine Ranuculus ficaria and White Dead Nettle Lamium album and was very interested to see the points at which others had got stuck.

You can find the group at:

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Wildflower Society / Botany Group Walk

PictureTeesdale Violet
Several members of the Botany Group met up with members of the Wildflower Society on a walk from Woodwell in Silverdale via Jenny Brown's  Point and Heald Brow then back to our cars at the well.

Despite the appalling weather forecast we didn't have a drop of rain though in exposed parts of the walk there were strong winds however in sheltered spots jackets had to be unzipped.

Julie Clarke of the Wildflower Society provided us with an excellent walk and demonstrated her remarkable knowledge of the local flora. Two members of the Botany Group took advantage of this local knowledge to walk with Julie to the summit of Arnside Knot in search of the Teasdale Violet which was found on a grassy slope.

Our list of sightings include:

Adoxa moschatellina                                    Town Hall Clock

Aegopedium podagraria                                Ground-elder

Allium paradoxum                                        Few-flowered garlic

Allium ursinum                                             Ramsons

Anemone nemorosa                                     Wood Anemone

Aphanes agg.                                              Parsleypiert

Apium nodiflorum                                        Fool’s Watercress

Arabis hirsuta                                              Hairy Rock-cress

Asplenium trichomanes                                 Maidenhair Spleenwort

Cardamine bulibifera                                    Coralroot Bittercress

Cardamine flexuosa                                     Wavy Bitter-cress

Cerastium fontanum                                    Common Mouse-ear

Cerataphyllum demersum                             Rigid Hornworth

Chaerophyllum temulum                               Rough Chervil

Erophyla verna agg.                                     Common Whitlowgrass

Filipendula ulmaria                                       Meadowsweet

Foeniculum vulgare                                      Fennel

Geranium lucidum                                        Shining Crane’s-bill

Glechoma hederacea                                    Ground-ivy

Hyacinthoides non-scripta                             Bluebell

Lamiastrum Galeobdolon ssp argentatum       Yellow Archangel

Luzula campestris                                        Field Woodrush

Meconopsis cambrica                                   Welsh Poppy

Mercurialis perennis                                     Dog's Mercury

Myrrhis odorata                                           Sweet Cicely

Oxalis acetosella                                         Wood Sorrel

Parietaria judaica                                         Pellitory-of-the-wall

Pentaglottis semperveriens                           Green Alkanet

Phyllitis scolopendrium                                 Hart’s Tongue

Primula vulgaris                                           Primrose

Pulmonaria officinialis                                   Lungwort
Ranunculus lingua                                        Greater Spearwort

Sanguisorba minor                                       Salad Burnet

Saxifraga oppositifolia                                  Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage

Sedum acre                                                Biting Stonecrop

Sesleria caerulea                                         Moor Grass

Typha latifolia                                              Bulrush

Veronica agestris                                         Green Field-speedwell     

Veronica chamaedrys                                   Germander Speedwell

Veronica hederifolia lucorum                         Ivy Leaved Speedwell

Viola hirta                                                   Hairy Violet

Viola odorata                                              Sweet Violet

Viola reichenbachiana                                  Early Dog-violet

Viola riviniana                                             Common Dog Violet

Viola rupestris                                              Teesdale Violet’

Viola rupestris x riviniana

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Liverpool World Museum Botany Collection

PicturePart of Herbarium Collection
Dr Colin Smith of the BSBI and Wendy Atkinson, a curator of the botany collection at  Liverpool Museum hosted a training session introducing attendees to John Poland's Vegetative Key to the British Flora.
This proved a very challenging task for some of the group, me in particular, and some samples proved impossible to identify through the keys even though it was a known plan.

We also had the opportunity to try our hand using several types of microscope to study the anatomy of plans invisible to the naked eye or even through a 15 X magnification hand lens.  Looking at the stomata, vascular bundles many types of hair that lead to positive identification proved to be endlessly fascinating.

There was also the opportunity for Wendy to show us round the herbarium collection and her enthusiasm for its contents was infectious leading us to spend more time there than was originally planned. 

It was interesting to see samples collected by long departed botanists such as those gathered by Georg Forster when he accompanied Captain Cook on his second visit to New Zealand in 1772/5.  I was also fascinated by a sheet showing Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara collected in the early 19th century as it is presently flowering in profusion at Brockholes Nature Reserve.

We were all very grateful to Colin and Wendy for spending some of their valuable time with us and providing us with such an interesting day where I am sure we all learned a great deal.

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Rivington Gardens Survey

Many Lancashire Wildlife Trust Volunteers would, like me, have received notice of a survey to be carried out at the Japanese Gardens  on the old estate of soap tycoon Lord Leverhulme.  William Hesketh Lever was a Bolton grocer who developed soap products in the cellar of his shop and went on to today's mighty detergent and chemicals empire Unilver.
The terraced gardens on the hillside at Rivington were designed by the landscape architect T. H. Mawson from the Lakeland Nursery in Wndermere in 1905.
Six volunteers from around the county took up the invitation to join the Groundwork project to restore the gardens; we were welcome by Project Manager Ben Williams before we set off into the gardens with Trust Senior  Conservation Officer John Lamb.

Well over a hundred species were identified and recorded during the day and, very importantly the group were able to learn a huge amount from John's expertise. It is vital that more people develop an understanding of the importance of of our native flora; and learning to identify the various species that most people pass by without a second glance leads to that understanding.
Trees, shrubs, grasses and flowering plants were the focus of the day but it became obvious that mosses, lichens and fungi were present in abundance and will merit some serious study in the near future.

Further surveys are to be carried out during September and Trust members can find out more by contacting Volunteer Coordinator Catherine Haddon at the Trust 
Photographs clockwise: Identifying aquatic species, Keying our ferns, examining species growing between paving stone, three fern frond: Lady Fern, Broad Buckler Fern, Male Fern.

The site of Rivington's Terraced Gardens seem to be an obvious site for a future field trip for the Botany Group. Let me have your views via the Contact Page.

Source Lancashire Botany Group

Field Trip to Condor Green & Lancaster Canal

Our postponed Field Trip got off to a good start as 11 members of the Botany Group met up at the Condor Green car park to join our leader Eric Greenwood ably assisted by David Earl, Vice County Recorder for Lancashire VC 59 & 60.
Tyro botanists, such as myself, find it hugely beneficial to be in the company of such experienced and knowledgeable botanists as well as Sarah Stille, BSBI Vice County Recorder for Merioneth; Sheila Wynne, General Secretary of the Wildflower Society.
Leaving our cars well wrapped against the wind and with a promise of showers our first find on the edge of the marsh was Calystegia sepium Ssp Roseata which found in full bloom which is a rare occurrence I am told
We continued along the branch of the Lancaster Canal with occasional showers but enjoyed a picnic lunch in sunshine sheltered from the wind by one of the bridges.
Other finds included Common Hemp-nettle Galeopsis tetrhit  and Field Scabious Knautia arvensis.  All three finds were new to me though I am sure very familiar to other members of the party.
We were joined by a family group of Mute Swans who were obviously used to being fed  but had to resort to foraging amongst the Hemp Agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum.
This field trip was the last of the current season but we are very interested to hear your views on the future of the group; what type of activities would you like to take place? What sites would you like to visit? What training events would be useful to you? Would you be prepared to lead a field trip to your favourite patch?

Please tell us what you think so that we can include your ideas into our next year's programme. You can reply using the contact form.