Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year Plant Hunt

Today was the last opportunity to take part in the BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt - a national hunt for wild plants in flower between 1st and 4th January. To my shame I didn't get round to organising an 'official' Oxfordshire New Year Plant Hunt, and so with time running out to take part I dashed out this afternoon to see what I could find flowering in the allotted three hours around the parish of Islip where I live. If you also took part in Oxfordshire do share what you found via the comments box below.

Islip is mostly arable land plus the village, so the local flora consists largely of weeds and garden escapes. Almost all of the arable land is under winter wheat this year and so is pretty boring, and I therefore headed straight for the allotments where I knew there to be a few things still flowering. En route there were rather fewer garden escapes flowering than I'd expected, with only Aurinia saxatilis and Vinca major, both growing out of walls, putting on a show. An app and record submission website based on iRecord have been developed for this year's results - however, it doesn't seem to recognise Aurinia saxatilis, only the genus.

The allotment turned up most of the weeds one would expect, e.g. Capsella bursa-pastoris, Lamium purpureum, Stellaria media and Veronica persica. However, I was pleased that there was still plenty of Fumaria densiflora in flower on my plot. After the allotment I decided to hazard a rapid walk toward Noke to see if I could refind Scandix pecten-veneris, which was flowering and fruiting abundantly this time last year. Unfortunately, the field is under wheat this year and while plants are there again they were rather far off flowering. Shortly after this disappointment I was benighted and a few kilometres from home, so I trudged back in the dark with the list still at a rather modest seventeen taxa. A list of what I saw and photographs of all but the Vinca are shown below.

National results are pouring into the website. One of the most commonly recorded species is Poa annua and I wonder if I was stricter than others - I couldn't find any P. annua actually flowering. The rules don't seem to cover cleistogamous flowers...

Scientific name Common name Habitat
Aurinia saxatilis gold basket Naturalised in wall
Bellis perennis daisy Verge
Capsella bursa-pastoris shepherd's purse Allotments
Cardamine hirsuta hairy bittercress Allotments
Euphorbia heliscopia sun spurge Allotments
Fumaria densiflora dense-flowered fumitory Allotments
Lamium album white deadnettle Verge
Lamium purpureum red deadnettle Allotments
Senecio vulgaris groundsel Allotments
Sisymbrium officinale hedge mustard Arable
Stellaria media chickweed Allotments
Taraxacum agg. dandelion Allotments
Thlaspi arvense field pennycress Allotments
Veronica persica common field speedwell Allotments
Vinca major greater periwinkle Naturalised in wall
Viola arvensis field pansy Arable
Viola x wittrockiana garden pansy Allotments

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