Thursday, 17 September 2015

If you go down to the Eyebrook today..

The Eyebrook Reservoir draw-down zone.
... you're sure of a lovely surprise! Botanically speaking, that is. Although it is rather small, it is significant.

During the last vascular plant field meeting this year at Eyebrook Reservoir, the eagle-eyed botanists Louise Marsh and Uta Hamzaoui found some plants of Frog Rush (Juncus ranarius) lurking in the upper regions of the draw-down zone.

A diminutive species, this is only the second confirmed record for this species in the county, following on from Andy Lear's find in 2011 at Rutland Water. It is similar to Toad Rush (Juncus bufonius), but has rounded to emargintae inner tepals and a capsule with a truncate apex, as long as the inner tepals.

Juncus ranarius
Dr Tom Cope, who works at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and who is the referee for this group of  rushes, says: "The species seems to be on the march across the country.  At one time it was strictly coastal (apart from a few records from highly basic soils) but now it seems to be spreading, probably as the result of the salting of roads in winter, and there is a growing number of inland records for it."

So, another seaside plant that we can expect to find in VC55 to add to the growing list of coastal species that are being recorded on salted roadside. No need to take a trip to Skegness any more, the coast (well, its vegetation at least) is coming to us.

Peter Stroh (Cambridge Botanic Garden) recently told me that Sea Barley (Hordeum marinum) has been recorded in Northants (VC32). And I have heard tales of Thrift (Armeria maritima) being found inland on roadsides...

So, keep looking and expect the unexpected. You never know what you might find.


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