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

News > 2018

Carduus tenuiflorus

Thistles This year the Hull Natural History Society has been conducting a survey of 25 monads covering the Beverley area. Yesterday, while looking at TA0529 - Beverley Beck and NW Figham, Bill Dolling discovered an extensive colony of a pale, slender "Welted" thistle towards the northern edge of the common. Closer examination has confirmed this to be Carduus tenuiflorus, a taxon very rarely recorded in the vice-county.

The above image shows a local Welted Thistle Carduus crispus (A) and Bill's appropriately named Slender Thistle Carduus tenuiflorus (B). Although the "welted" stems are superficially similar, the flowers are very clearly different. The narrow, pale, closely clustered capitula of C. tenuiflorus should make any future confusion unlikely. Now we know it's there I look forward to receiving lots of records ...

Richard Middleton, 15 June 2018

TA05D - Little Driffield and Keld

This location for the May Local Group meeting was chosen for its multiplicity of broad habitats including Elmswell Beck on the River Hull Headwaters SSSI, Britain's most northerly chalk stream. We were denied access to much of the stream and springs by recently erected barbed wire fences but we did get good views of Stream Water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus subsp. pseudofluitans, in flower from a bridge. Sub-urban niches, cemetery, road verge, marshy pasture, ponds, some well maintained marsh, both wet and dry woodland and dry grassland yielded 214 taxa. Notable taxa included a Scaly Male-fern Dryopteris affinis agg., Brown Sedge Carex disticha and Carnation Sedge Carex panicea with its distinctive fruit already formed. Changing Forget-me-not Myosotis discolor that had not read the text books, and Marsh Marigold Caltha palustris that had, were pleasing to see. So often we see Caltha that had probably originated in a garden centre. Marsh Valerian Valeriana dioica and Bog Stitchwort Stellaria alsine were additional delights on a well managed marsh. Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot Ranunculus trichophyllus in both ponds affirmed old records for this species in TA05. Altogether this was a good day's work and play.

Peter J Cook, 16 May 2018

A Checklist & review of stonewort records

Peter Cook has produced a checklist and review of stonewort records for vc61 which is now available for download here.
It does not claim to be a comprehensive work, or to be a closed document, but it brings together records that have been published locally with some of those already mapped by the BSBI. The account includes examples of taxa that have re-appeared after a century of not being recorded and demonstrates that there is still plenty of scope for finding taxa apparently new to the vice county.

8 March 2018

An inventory of native and exotic conifers

John Killingbeck has produced a survey of local coniferous and allied trees, based on observations going back several decades. It is an attempt to catalogue all the species likely to be encountered in vc61 and is intended to be a continuous process as new species are constantly turning up due to the widespread availability of novelties in garden centres. This extremely useful document may be downloaded here as a pdf file.

John would be interested to hear of any additions to the list.

Rumex sanguineus var viridis vs.
R. conglomeratus explored

On several occasions friends have commented on my ability to identify Rumex sanguineus var viridis (Rsv) not yet flowering or fruiting and walk at the same time. Given that I now sometimes walk with a stick and have heard this comment once too often, I thought it time for me to explore whether I might be over-confident.

Starting with vc61 and national (BSBI maps), Rsv is being recorded evenly with no evidence of change in distribution, so there appears to be a high level of confidence among recorders that we are all correct (or all wrong!). In common with the national incidence, R. conglomeratus (Rc) appears to be declining locally, which is comforting evidence that we are getting this right too. It matches my own hunch from many BSBI Local Group and various surveys over recent years that Rc is not being seen as often as it used to, which coincidentally aligns with the observation of decline of freshwater wetland species generally.

Rsv is a plant which occurs commonly at the back of road verges and on ditch banks in the shade of hedges and in woodland margins. It prefers shade, hence Wood Dock. Early in life the leaves are yellowish green and with their adjacent branch lie not quite parallel with the stem, giving the plant a fastigiated stature even before the terminal flowering shoots take off.

Rc is a plant that grows in wetter places such as the bottom of shallow ditches and among Soft Rush in rush pastures (e.g. NVC MG10) and as a pond margin species. It prefers open, well-lit situations. The branches of Rc tend to be splayed at 45 to 60 degrees from the axis of the stem and the leaves are a darker shade of green than Rsv. Later in life the two species are easily differentiated by their tepal tubercles but in Rc, leaves running up to the apex of the plant appear to weigh it down making the whole plant straggly, spreading low and out of sight among pond marginal vegetation.

I have never seen the red veined var sanguineus outside a garden but Rsv does have traces of red at the base of petioles and the main stem. If the stem is broken off at soil level, red pigmentation can be seen over the full transverse section of the stem. This is not true for Rc and this is a useful, through destructive, field test.

Habitat (especially the shade preference), fastigiate stature and red pigmentation are, in order, the main vegetative features needed to distinguish Rsv from Rc at a walking pace before they fruit.

Peter J Cook, 17 May 2018

TA16 - Urban Bridlington

On our first meeting of the Local Group in 2018, six of us visited the cemetery, a small wood and the streets lying within one monad in North Bridlington. Planned as a 'warm up', this was coincidentally the first really warm day of the year with several butterflies and humble bees on the wing. We scored 106 taxa, most of them mundane. Stinking Iris, Iris foetidissima, was found in the small wood. It is a plant of dry woods near the sea, mostly on calcareous soils according to Stace, so it raises the question whether it is natural or naturalized. It is an uncommon taxon in vc61. The same small wood contained mature planted Beech together with seedlings, which is an uncommon finding in SE Yorkshire. Small white crucifers were found in abundance, the most delightful of which, Erophila verna s.l, was sometimes the dominant species over several square metres. We had a pic-nic lunch behind a hedge and on departing spotted a single Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola. The absence of old walls and water bodies in this monad is clear from the paucity of typical muraphytes and absence of aquatic and marginal species. Given the paucity of broad habitat in the monad and of mature plants early in a late season, our score was very good.

Peter J Cook, 14 April 2018

Celery-leaved Buttercup occurring as a swarm in TA32D

On May 12th I spotted Ranunculus sceleratus growing as a continuous ribbon for at least 50 metres along a roadside ditch near Withernsea that had been cleaned out about 2 years ago. I was surprised to see this species growing so robustly and occurring in such profusion to the extent that I returned armed with a camera.

During our last 5 years of intensive recording I have no recall of seeing any more than a single plant and note that we have sightings from only about a half of the tetrads for which we have a record pre-2000. Given that this observation came as a surprise to me, I suspect that the species is in rapid decline across the Vice County.

Peter J Cook, 14 May 2018

Carnation Sedge (Carex panicea) in TA41

On 6th May I surveyed a small area of marsh on the berm of the Humber flood defence bank at Kilnsea (TA41D), which is now part of the new Kilnsea Wetlands reserve overseen by the Easington Biodiversity Study Group, headed by the Environment Agency. The marsh is at the eastern end of a borrow-pit that is notable for interesting species including Sea Rush (Juncus maritimus) and Distant Sedge (Carex distans). I chose a good time to visit for I found a strongly glaucous sedge with male spikes hanging heavy with pollen-shedding anthers. It was clearly not Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca) and to my surprise I found it had leaves tapered to a trigonal point, the clinching vegetative field character that differentiates C. panicea from C. flacca and C. nigra.

At home I looked up C. panicea in Crackles' flora and was surprised to find a 'spot' for it in TA41C. There’s only one place in TA41C with habitat similar to Kilnsea Marsh so on 10 May, with obsessive-compulsive fervour, I headed down to the eastern end of Kilnsea Canal. Within a minute of setting foot there I found Carex panicea only a few metres from C. distans and Juncus maritimus. A mirror image!

C. panicea is not common in Holderness, though may be overlooked.

Peter J Cook, 10 May 2018

Fumaria parviflora - a posthumous identification

This note is more history than news and is published posthumously for Dr Eric Chicken. In May 2010, Eric wrote to me sending a sample of a fumitory that he had collected on waste ground at Kelleythorpe. It had small white flowers tinged with pink and minute irregularly serrate sepals. Identification had eluded Eric's expertise. Fumaria vaillantii was one of his suggestions, and was a very strong contender, but the extreme rarity of this species meant that we needed more material and referral for expert opinion. We agreed to agree that we would never identify it satisfactorily without mature fruit.

In August 2010 I collected some fruiting material from the same place but could not meet up with Eric on the same day, later finding that he had been admitted into hospital. I visited him on 23 August, and he passed away the following day. I subsequently forgot where I had put the specimen and gave no more thought to identifying the plant until Richard published his note about F. vaillantii in June last year. My pressed fell from between the pages of a book on 3 January 2018 and re-opened the debate again, albeit with myself.

The bracts were the same length as, or often longer than, the fruiting pedicel which very soon confirmed the identification as F. parviflora. However, what about the pink coloration? Stace (2ndEdition) comments that the flowers of F. parviflora are, "white or very pale pink". The fruits were the shape described for F. parviflora and contained well-formed seeds so hybridization was discounted.

Although not as rare as F. vaillantii, F. parviflora is listed in our vc61 Rare Plants Register and I think Eric would have been just as happy with this conclusion.

Peter J Cook, 3 January 2018