Sunday, 13 October 2013

No Samolus, but not so bad...

Is there a word for the particular kind of annoyance you experience when it has been raining all weekend and the sun comes out on Sunday evening? Brightening-up Rage perhaps? Thanks to the rotten weather (I assume?), we've just had our worst-attended meeting in years - only four of us! 

We didn't refind the Samolus, but we did see Catapodium rigidum Fern-grass and Scutellaria galericulata Skullcap, and a rose with rather stunning prickles (right). So once the rain had stopped, it really wasn't too bad...

Uta, Russell and Ian on the Grand Union Canal
 The interesting thing was that, once again, we were surveying alongside the canal and we were finding species on the Local Wildlife Site criteria list for both mesotrophic grassland (6 spp) and wet grassland (4, possibly 5, spp). 

With 10+ species from the two lists, this stretch of the canal bank would meet the criteria to be designated a LWS for its wet grassland, if it is also seasonally-flooded. Anybody got any good photos of last winter's floods?

The mesotrophic grassland species were Centaurea nigra Knapweed, Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet, Galium verum Lady's Bedstraw, Lathyrus pratensis Meadow Vetchling, Ranunculus bulbosus Bulbous Buttercup and Trifolium pratense Red Clover. 

And from the wet grassland list: Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica, Juncus inflexus Hard Rush, Carex otrubae False Fox-sedge, Carex riparia Greater Pond-sedge and Russell has taken home what may be Carex acuta to look at more closely. We got 94 taxa on our recording card.

You can download a pdf of the criteria species here. And then you can go out and find some more potential Local Wildlife Sites!

Hunt the Samolus part 2

Just to confirm that today's 'Hunt the Samolus' meeting will still take place, even if it is raining. The majority vote is for a 12 noon start, so...hope you can make it! You can phone me if you arrive late and can't see us - phone number at the foot of any email from the VC55 group.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Videos for botanists

BSBI wins Best Stand 2013 (Conservation) at Birdfair
Image: L. Marsh
 Here is a link to a rather nice short video about plant collections at Kew. Anyone who has visited the Herbarium at Leicester will be interested to see what a Herbarium looks like when you apply some serious money to it. 

Just think what Richard Gornall, Curator of the Herbarium at the University of Leicester (LTR), could do with an equally juicy cash injection...  

The video is very slick and professional with some eye-catching graphics - I love the plant silhouettes that flutter over the Herbarium cabinets (another item for the LTR wishlist!).

VC55 members arriving at Charity Fields, Desford;
Nick Crowley tells us about the site's history.
 Image: L. Marsh
Compare Kew's offering with the BSBI's short video here, filmed on our award-winning stand at this year's Birdfair by a professional team for Birdfair TV. No fancy graphics, but you can see the plant displays that won us the Best Stand Award (Conservation). 

The video also features a big plug for the VC55 group from BSBI's President, Ian Denholm. He says we are a good example of a local BSBI group! But you may want to fast forward for some of the video - there's a really annoying curly-haired old bat wittering on about outreach...  
Herbarium volunteers show Botany for Beginners
 students what we do in the Herbarium
Image: L. Marsh

Or compare with the New Journal of Botany video: interview with Richard G, shot by me on a point-and-shoot camera on a budget of absolutely nothing. Great content (ok, I would say that!) but as for production values... still, worth a look. Richard brightens up towards the end of the video, once he realises the ordeal is nearly over. Watch our reluctant media star here, and hear him praise the volunteers who help in the Herbarium.  

I spotted the link to the Kew video on the BSBI (Irish Section) Facebook page here. Some nice things on their page! The main BSBI Facebook page also has mystery plant photos for you to try and ID, links to events and... posts by an annoying old bat wittering on about outreach. Sorry! 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Hunt the Samolus

Looking up old records for Samolus valerandi (Brookweed) in the 1988 Flora of Leics, Uta found that it was recorded in 1972, growing in a "marsh at canal margin near Pywell's Lock" between Wistow and Kibworth.  

Uta says "the Samolus could be in flower now" so she suggests that we go out this weekend and see if we can refind it at Pywell's Lock. We will also, of course, record any other plants we find, but here is our prime target, as photographed by Geoffrey in the Outer Hebrides last summer: 

According to Mike's Flora, Samolus valerandi is rare in VC55, with records from only 14 localities. Click here for the Doodle link so you can vote on your preferred day and start time, and can see where to park and assemble. If you need a lift, please leave a comment on the Doodle poll and we will try to help - we always try to car-share when we go out recording.