Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Glanville Fritillary

Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Female.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Female.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
Glanville Fritillaries are rare in the UK, occurring naturally in the Channel Islands and the south coast of the Isle of Wight.  There is a small colony on the Hampshire coast, probably re-introduced there, and two other sites where it has been introduced.  One of these happens to be a couple of miles from my house.

They are pretty creatures.

Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Male.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Male.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
I actually went there to look for Small Blues, but didn;t see any.  What I did see was people in search of the Glanville Fritillary.  I knew it was there, but I did not know that this was its peak time.  There were at least half a dozen specimens flying and basking in a small chalk cutting, and I photographed three.

Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Male.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
Glanville Fritillary, Melitaea cinxia.  Male.  Hutchinson's Bank, 24 May 2016.
I was told that they were introduced here in 2011.  Five years is the blink of an eye for a species, but so far they seem to be doing well.  This cutting catches the sun, and I have seen other scarce-ish species here; the Small Blues that I missed this year, and Chalkhill Blues. 

It's a nice spot and I took some other photos too, some of which I will show in my next post.

Glanville hunters in a chalk cutting on Hutchinson's Bank.  24 May 2016.
Glanville hunters in a chalk cutting on Hutchinson's Bank.  24 May 2016.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Scale

Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  West Common Road, Hayes, 17 April 2016.
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  West Common Road, Hayes, 17 April 2016.
 Just a brief post to illustrate one of the diffculties in identifying even the most common plants.  This is a Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  In fact it is a bank of many plants at the side of a road. 

Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  West Common Road, Hayes, 2 May 2016.
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  West Common Road, Hayes, 2 May 2016.
 Step back a bit and it looks like this.  This group is six feet across.

Then we have ...

Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  Saville Row, Hayes, 28 April 2016.
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill, Geranium molle.  Saville Row, Hayes, 28 April 2016.
This, which is three inches across in a crack in a pavement.  It's the same species.

Often the same plant can adapt to a range of environments, growing differently to suit each one.

Small-flowered and Dove's-foot Cranesbills, Geranium pusillum and Geranium molle.
Farnborough Crescent, Hayes, 2 May 2016.
But some environments suit more than one species.  There are two small geraniums here, Small-flowered Crane's-bill below and the larger Dove's-foot Crane's-bill above.  You can see here that there are differences in their general appearance, but each one might look different again in a different environment.  At first glance, the small specimen above looks a lot like the Small-flowered, but it's not.  That's why it is useful to know what specific things to look for.  In this case it's the hairs on their leaf stems, illustrated in a recent post.

Monday, 16 May 2016

More Verge Plants

Wall Speedwell, Veronica arvensis.  On the verge opposite my house in Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Wall Speedwell, Veronica arvensis.  On the verge opposite my house in Hayes, 6 May 2016.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell, Veronica serpyllifolia.  The grass verge of Farnborough Crescent, Hayes, 5 May 2016.
In the last week or two, more little plants have come into flower in the "grass" verge opposite my house, adding to those shown in this earlier post about my verge.

The tiny blue flower in the first picture is Wall Speedwell.

Not far away is the plant on the right, a Thyme-leaved Speedwell, with flowers that are violet and white. 

With the Common Field Speedwell shown in the last verge post, that makes three species of Speedwell so far.

Last year I saw the Wall Speedwell on a wall, which seemed fair enough; and the Thyme-leaved Speedwell was growing in a local park.  It's good to have them here.

In the background of the picture on the right is the Parsley-piert I showed in the previous verge post, linked to above.

In the first picture there are also some clover-like leaves.  These belong to ...


Spotted Medick, Medica arabica.  On the verge opposite my house in Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Spotted Medick, Medica arabica.  On the verge opposite my house in Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Spotted Medick.  Those tiny little yellow flowers are more like pea flowers than clover, and tell you that this belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae.  (So do clovers, but it's less easy to tell.)

Daisy and Oxeye Daisy.  Bellis perennis and  Leucanthemum vulgare.  On the verge opposite my house in  Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Daisy and Oxeye Daisy.  Bellis perennis and  Leucanthemum vulgare.
On the verge opposite my house in  Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Last for the moment - two daisies.  The common daisy on the right pops up everywhere, like dandelions.  The larger leaves belong to Ox-eye Daisy.  It seems to be well established, but is not likely to flower because its tall flowering stems will be mown off.  This one might be a bit of a cheat, because I sowed some in my tiny front plot a couple of years ago and they have probably seeded across the road here.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Wilberforce Oak

The Wilberforce Oaks, near Keston.  4 May 2016.
The Wilberforce Oaks, near Keston.  4 May 2016.
A path leads south from Keston Common past Holwood House towards Downe. It passes a dead oak tree and a seat; this is the Wilberforce Oak. 

It was here that William Pitt the Younger, who lived nearby, met with one William Wilberforce, member of parliament for Yorkshire, on 12 May 1787.  They talked beneath this oak tree, and Wilberforce decided to take action to abolish the slave trade.  His efforts led to the eventual introduction of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.

The stone seat opposite the tree was, according to its inscription,  "Erected by Earl Stanmore 1862 By Authorisation of Earl Stanworth." This seat is fenced off now, so you won't be able to sit there.  There's a wooden seat on the path for the likes of us.  (Touches forelock.)

The original Wilberforce Oak, near Keston.  4 May 2016.
The original Wilberforce Oak, near Keston.  4 May 2016.
This is all very well, and quite historical, but the tree you see growing there now is a replacement, planted in 1969.  The old one whose remains are shown here is supposed to have blown down in 1991, though it must already have been dead, or why plant a replacement 22 years earlier?

The Wilberforce Oak commemorative seat on 5 February 2010.
The Wilberforce Oak commemorative seat on 5 February 2010.

Here's the stone seat showing its inscriptions.  The one in the cartouche says "I well remember after a conversation with Mr. Pitt in the open air at the root of an old tree at Holwood, just above the steep descent into the vale of Keston, I resolved to give notice on a fit occasion in the House of Commons of my intention to bring forward the abolition of the slave-trade."  

This is supposed to be an extract from Wilberforce's diary, though other sources have it that the entry refers to a conversation with William Pitt and the future Prime Minister William Grenville.  Maybe it was edited for this inscription, to make it refer just to the local dignitary.

The inscription is hard to make out, but it is reproduced clearly on another more modern sign nearby.

As a final bit of mood, here's a photo from February 2010 showing a fragment of the old tree still almost upright.

The Wilberforce Oaks, near Keston.  5 February 2010.
The Wilberforce Oaks, near Keston.  5 February 2010.



Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tough Stuff

Cones of Common Horsetail, Equisetum arvense.   Hayes station car park, 24 April 2016.
Cones of Common Horsetail, Equisetum arvense.   Hayes station car park, 24 April 2016.
It's pretty tough stuff, though it doesn't look it.  This Common Horsetail shoves its cones up through asphalt as though it isn't there.

Accompanying it up against the bricks is one of these:

Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides.  Leaf rosette.  Hayes, 24 April 2016.
Bristly Oxtongue, Helminthotheca echioides.  Leaf rosette.  Hayes, 24 April 2016.
a Bristly Oxtongue, recognisable even as a small rosette by the pustular appearance of its leaves.  This slightly larger specimen is a few feet away.  It will put up a tall flower spike later (or try to; once it becomes really noticeable it might suffer.)

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum.  Hayes station car park, 24 April 2016.
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum.  Hayes station car park, 24 April 2016.
I think Herb Robert is the prettiest of our local wild Geraniums, and it's probably the commonest, occurring in woods and other wild places as well as in car parks like this one.

Pellitory-of-the-Wall, Parietaria judaica.  Hayes, 24 April 2016.
Pellitory-of-the-Wall, Parietaria judaica.  Hayes, 24 April 2016.
This is Pellitory-of-the-Wall, and indeed it grows out of cracks in several of the local walls.  Here, it has found a crevice at the edge of a path.

Dandelion plus. Saville Row, Hayes, 6 May 2016.
Dandelion plus. Saville Row, Hayes, 6 May 2016.
I can't really ignore this pretty plant.  Even though it's so dry here that it can only afford to support five small leaves, this Dandelion is putting out two full-sized flowers.  With it are a grass, which I might identify when it flowers, and a Bitter-cress which is so dry and stressed that it has mostly turned purple.  These are actually on my front door steps.  Botany is literally on my doorstep. 

There are many other plants that are tough enough to survive in suburbia.  I had to go hardly any distance to find the groups in this and the last two posts.  There are other communities that grow on walls in particular, in grass verges, on the dry ground in a local farm, and in the local woods.  The variety is very cheering, and I hope the weedkiller sprayers never get more thorough than they already are. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

More Survivors

Three-cornered Leek, Allium triquetrum.  Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Three-cornered Leek, Allium triquetrum.  Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Some plants just need a very little open ground to thrive.  This Three-cornered Leek gets its name from the fleshy leaves, which are more or less triangular in cross-section.  It's an invasive pest in woodlands but bright and cheerful in unregarded corners like this one.

It is edible in all parts and tastes garlicky.  So this is one plant that no-one should feel guilty about foraging from the woods.  But don't take it from places like this, because the chances are that dogs have peed on it.

Cleavers, Galium aparine.  Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 26 April 2016.
Cleavers, Galium aparine.  Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 26 April 2016.
Shoots of Cleavers appeared as interlopers in two photos in my last post.  This is what it can do if given a little space to grow.

Some of these survivors will flower later in the year, and are already well on their way.
Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea.  Hayes station, 10 April 2016.
Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea.  Hayes station, 10 April 2016.
The edges of car parks are good places to look for these often unregarded plants.  Purple Toadflax - no relation to the Ivy-leaved Toadflax in the last post - is quite happy under this fencing.

Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris.   Hayes station, 10 April 2016.
Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris.   Hayes station, 10 April 2016.
This Mallow doesn't need much space, either.

Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus.  Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 26 April 2016.
Petty Spurge, Euphorbia peplus.  Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 26 April 2016.
Although it doesn't look it from afar, this Petty Spurge is in full flower.  The flowers are small and green, a common feature of the Euphorbiaceae.

Next time I'll post just a couple more of the really tough ones.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Suburban Survivors




Yellow Corydalis, Pseudofumaria lutea.  Saville Row, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Yellow Corydalis, Pseudofumaria lutea.  Saville Row, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
It's not just mosses, lichens and liverworts that grow where there is no earth.  Lots of plants can survive and even thrive in cracks in stonework, and because mankind produces a great deal of artificial stonework there are niches for them in towns and cities.

This Yellow Corydalis is one of my favourites.  It's fresh and green, and those scrambled-egg flowers really cheer up the place.  In this photo there are also a couple of shoots of Cleavers and a tiny bit of Common Chickweed, both of which are hard to keep out.

Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis.  Station Approach, Hayes, 18 April 2016.
Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis.  Station Approach, Hayes, 18 April 2016.
Plants can survive and thrive even in busy places.  This Ivy-leaved Toadflax is in the crack between pavement and shop on a busy shopping street.  Someone has been around with weedkiller on this street, and many clumps of grass and greenery are going yellow and dying, but they have not really been very thorough, I am pleased to say.

Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris.  Station Approach, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris.  Station Approach, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
These Groundsels are on the other side of the same street.  They are in full flower - this plant has no petals on its flowers. 

Pine seedling.  Ridgeway, Hayes, 8 April 2016.
Pine seedling.  Ridgeway, Hayes, 8 April 2016.
This one is a bit of a surprise.  Pines are not normal street weeds!  But there are a couple of mature Scots Pines nearby and that is most likely where this seedling originates.

This is on a residential street, less bothered by weed removal than a street of shops.

Buddleia or Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii.  Railway bridge, Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Buddleia or Butterfly Bush, Buddleja davidii.  Railway bridge, Tiepigs Lane, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Buddleias are well known for growing in the cracks of walls, and that's what is happening here.  It's growing quite vigorously.  You can see that this brickwork has been repaired not long ago; there are newish bricks and fresh pointing.  You can also see that the older brickwork and pointing is deteriorating.  The bridge will soon need another repair if this goes on!

There is also a tiny shoot of bramble here, but it is not doing well and will probably not last.

Wavy Bitter-cress, Cardamine flexuosa.  Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Wavy Bitter-cress, Cardamine flexuosa.  Hayes, 25 April 2016.
This is Wavy Bitter-cress, and the very similar Hairy Bitter-cress also likes this kind of site.  Bitter-cresses grow in minute cracks all over this area.  If it is really dry they can be tiny, but still put out a few flowers.

Shining Crane's-bill, Geranium lucidum.  Saville Row, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Shining Crane's-bill, Geranium lucidum.  Saville Row, Hayes, 25 April 2016.
Several Geraniums grow wild in this area.  Shining Crane's-bill is one of them.  The leaves and leaf stems are glossy and often wholly or partly red.  There are shoots of Cleavers here too, just like the first photo.

Next I will show some plants that need a bit of earth, but little more than that.