Thursday, 5 June 2014

VC55 botanists cross a few boundaries...

County boundaries, that is! We passed a few "Welcome to ...shire" signs when we ventured over the VC55 county line [cue theme to 'Deliverance'] last Sunday for a visit to Breckland with Tim Pankhurst

Warks VC Recorders John & Monika Walton joined us for the day and it was also great to meet up again with Catherine, who forsook VC55 for Cambridgeshire last year. 

But the plants: Tim (pic on left) showed us some lovely things and I'm hoping that those of you with snazzy cameras who were snapping away on the day will send in your images to replace my pathetic attempts on this page. You know who you are and I know where you live. Just saying.

First Tim told us a bit about the history of Cranwich Camp, our first location, and about the geology and what makes the Brecks so special and important for plants. More info about this on Plantlife's excellent page here. Scroll down to check out the Info on Breckland plants booklet.
He showed us the most amazing ditch and yes, I know that sounds nerdy and yes, the ditch was right next to the car park and yes, we spent at least an hour in it. But before you laugh, consider just a few of the plants growing on the sides of the ditch, just at waist height so you didn't even have to bend down to see:

Petrorhagia prolifera Proliferous Pink
Medicago minima Bur Medick
Two Clovers which keyed out as Trifolium striatum. and T. scabrum - thanks to Andy Lear for correcting my earlier error here! And for offering more pix - link to follow.

Then into the grassland for Silene otites Spanish Catchfly and Astragalus danicus

Then on to a second site for Dianthus deltoides Maiden Pink (on left) and Festuca glauca Blue Fescue, which we examined to the song of a nightingale in a nearby bit of scrub. Apparently most visitors to this site bring binoculars but not a handlens. How odd. 

All drooping a bit in the heat by now (botanists and plants) but some of us just had to visit a final site, recommended by Tim. 

We soon found our quarry: lovely bluish clumps of Artemisia campestris and growing with it we saw Carex arenaria and a lovely Rosa rubiginosa of which I will only say that one of the day's delights - nearly as good as the hour in the ditch - was seeing the red glands on the calyx of Rosa rubiginosa.

If you don't have a live plant to hand, get to a Herbarium pronto and peer at a specimen. Those glands are quite something. 

Many thanks to Uta for organising the meeting and to Tim Pankhurst for sacrificing Sunday afternoon pub time to show us some lovely Breckland plants. Return visit next Spring to see/help monitor the Veronicas?

Posted by Louise, all blurry images by me and more about the outing to follow if/when I receive some better photos!

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