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

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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