For those who have not read our previous monthly reports, the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group is carrying out a year-long survey of the valley’s herbaceous plants recording what is in flower each month. 

This is a citizen scientist project with volunteers from the group noting which flowers they see when out walking around the town and in the countryside.  This is not totally random, apart from casual walks, a number of sites around the valley have been selected for regular survey to represent a range of habitats including the beach, hedgerows, heath, and open grassland, the sites are spread to cover the valley from north to south and east to west. 

The observations are logged into the iNaturalist online database, either directly through a phone app out on the walk or back home on a computer or tablet.  The iNaturalist system allows us to sort observations by month, location, or species, it also allows for a degree of validation for the observations which is important as we are all amateurs.

After April’s cold dry spell, the month of May has been only slightly better for wildflowers, there were a few days where you would have needed a winter coat.  The volunteers have recorded 148 species in flower this month, 59 are new to the observation list, 89 have been recorded in previous months, 45 species had been observed previously but they were not recorded in May.  So far this year 193 species have been recorded in the valley.  The full list is an appendix to this report, colour coded to distinguish early flowers that seem to have finished, those that have been flowering for longer than a month, and those that have just started to flower or have only just been observed by the volunteers.

Cleavers
Cleavers

 

The hedgerows continue to be the stars of our floral treasure chest, the burgeoning green growth being studded with the likes of Greater Stitchwort, Wild Strawberry, Green Alkanet, Yellow Archangel, and Red Campion.  The Cow Parsley has grown to its full frothy height and the clinging and clambering tangles of Cleavers or Goosegrass are dotted with many tiny, four-petalled flowers. 

Sweet Woodruff
Sweet Woodruff

These are being joined by their cousin Sweet Woodruff, and the Bedstraws are growing well and will flower in June. 

 

 

         

Black Medick 
Black Medick

Two more members of the Crane’s-bill family have opened their five petalled flowers this month, the Dove’s Foot and Dusky species.  Several members of the Pea family have joined the list.  The tiny flowers of the Black Medick (possibly named after its black fruits), Lesser Trefoil, and Hairy Tare will feed tiny solitary bees and other insects, while the Honeybees will welcome the arrival of the nectar rich White Clover.

.

 

Hairy Tare
Hairy Tare

The grasslands have been slow to start this year, but the parkland of the Knowle is awash with a sea of the Wedgwood blue Germander Speedwell.  Speedwells were mentioned last month but we have now observed nine species of Veronica in the valley.  Some, such as the Wall Speedwell which is growing quite appropriately on the wall of the church burial ground in Church Lane, have tiny flowers that hardly open fully.  Others, such as Germander Speedwell and Brooklime put on a colourful display, but it is worth taking a closer look to see the neat arrangement of the different sized petals and the two stamens that protrude like a pair of horns.

Wall Speedwell        
Wall Speedwell

                                                   

Germander Speedwell        
Germander Speedwell

There is a single Common Spotted Orchid hiding in the Knowle park, the flood alleviation work has obliterated the area where several grew in former years, hopefully some may return in years to come.  The single plant hasn’t opened it flowers yet, hopefully it will not be picked as has happened in the past.  There is a nearby wildflower meadow in a private garden which has many of the purple spikes.  Also, there are Southern Marsh Orchids and Common Twayblade Orchids, the latter are much less showy, attracting small wasps and beetles with a rich nectar supply rather than a dazzle of colour.  Twayblades are quite common, perhaps because people aren’t tempted to pick them.

              

 

Twayblade Orchid   
Twayblade Orchid

                   

Southern Marsh Orchid      
Southern Marsh Orchid

         

Common Spotted Orchid
Common Spotted Orchid

Dandelions continue to thrive, but they have been joined by several other species in the family formerly called Composites now lumped together by botanists as the Aster family.  What people might call the flower of the Dandelion, and its cousins such as the Hawksbeards, Cat’s Ears and the splendidly named Leopard’s Bane, is actually a cluster of very many florets.  Each yellow ray is made up from fused petals, 5 each in the Dandelion if you take a look with a magnifying glass.  Each has its own stamens and ovary, and the fruits contain a single seed dispersed by the hairy pappus catching the wind like a parachute.

The head of the valley has some very wet meadows, and these are home to plants that you are unlikely to find lower down the valley.  There is plenty of Greater Stitchwort that stands out in the hedgerows of the drier parts of the valley, but there is the smaller Marsh Stitchwort nearer the source of the river, and it is easy to miss the even smaller flowers of Bog Stitchwort.  Scarlet Pimpernel is appearing in the drier parts of the valley but  Yellow Pimpernel prefers the upper valley.  Although not yet in flower, the impressive towers of the Marsh Thistle are well on their way to their 2m maximum.


 

 

 

Scarlet Pimpernel
Scarlet Pimpernel

       

                                                Yellow Pimpernel
Yellow Pimpernel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people do not think of them when talking about wildflowers, but there are many grasses coming into flower as hay fever sufferers will know only too well.  They are a fascinating family but quite difficult for amateurs to identify.  We hope to make a special effort in mapping the valley’s grasses next year.

Looking forward to June, the weather has picked up at the start of the month and this will mean even more species adorning the hedgerows and fields and we will be able to tick off more those recorded in Cullen’s 1849 Flora Sidostiensis.  As the summer progresses, more and more red and purple flowers make an appearance.  Bees, and Honeybees in particular, favour these colours when collecting food.  A single Foxglove was recorded in a secluded spot at the end of May but the woods on Salcombe Hill will soon be alive with bees scrambling about inside these elegant spires of purple trumpets.  Mallows and Woundworts will also be in many hedgerows.  Much harder to find, the enigmatic Broomrape, a parasitic cousin of last month’s Toothwort, should put up its flower spikes next month.  On a smaller scale, the bellybutton leaves of the Navelwort or Wall Pennywort will be interspersed with their pale yellow flower spikes.  There is so much to look forward to.

Ed Dolphin

Observations logged on iNaturalist

 

 

Species recorded in flower up to May 31st, 2021

 

New this month Seen in May and previously Seen previously but not in May  
Alexanders Cuckoo Pint Mouse-ear, Common Sow Thistle, Smooth
Alkanet Daffodil, Wild Mouse-Ear, Sticky Sowthistle, Prickly
Anemone, Wood Daisy, Common Mustard, Black Speedwell, Common Field
Avens, Wood Daisy, Ox Eye Mustard, Hedge Speedwell, Germander
Barley, Wall Dame’s Violet Mustard, White Speedwell, Ivy-Leaved
Bellflower, Trailing Dandelion Nettle, Common Speedwell, Pink Ivy-leaved
Bilberry Deadnettle, Red Nipplewort Speedwell, Slender
Bird’s-foot Trefoil Deadnettle, White Orchid, Common Spotted Speedwell, Thyme-leaved
Bittercress, Hairy Dog’s Mercury Orchid, Common Twayblade Speedwell, Wall
Bittercress, Wavy Dropwort Orchid, Early Purple Speedwell, Wood
Bittersweet Fescue, Giant Orchid, Southern Marsh Spurge, Petty
Bogbean Fescue, Red Oxlip Spurge, Wood
Bluebell Fleabane, Mexican Oxtongue, Bristly Squill, Siberian
Bluebell, Hybrid Forget-me-not, Changing Parsley, Cow St Johns Wort, Shrubby
Bramble Forget-me-not, Early Parsley, Upright Hedge Star of Bethlehem
Brooklime Forgetmenot, Field Pearlwort, Procumbent Stitchwort, Bog
Bryony, Black Forgetmenot, Wood Pellitory of the Wall Stitchwort, Greater
Bugle Foxglove Pennywort, Wall Stitchwort, Lesser
Butchers Broom Foxtail, Meadow Periwinkle, Greater Stitchwort, Marsh
Buttercup, Bulbous Fringe Cups Periwinkle, Lesser Strawberry, Barren
Buttercup, Creeping Fritillary, Snake’s Head Pignut Strawberry, Wild
Buttercup, Meadow Fumitory, Common-Ramping Pimpernel, Scarlet Sweet Cicely
Buttercup, Small Flowered Garlic Mustard Pimpernel, Yellow Tare, Hairy
Campion, Red Garlic, Three Cornered Plantain, Buck’s-horn Thale Cress
Campion, Sea Garlic, Wild Plantain, Ribwort Thrift, Estoril
Carrot, Wild Sea Golden-Saxifrage, Opp.Leaf Pondweed, Cape Thrift, Sea
Cat’s Ear, Common Grape Hyacinth, Broad Leaf Primrose Toadflax, Ivy-Leaved
Celandine, Lesser Ground Ivy Purslane, Pink Toothwort, Purple
Charlock Groundsel, Common Ragged Robin Tormentil
Chickweed Hawksbeard, Beaked Ragwort, Common Trefoil, Lesser
Chickweed, Greater Hawksbeard, Smooth Rush, Soft Valerian, Red
Cleavers Heath, Spring Sanicle Vernal Grass, Sweet
Clover, Red Hellebore, Stinking Scurvygrass, Danish Vetch, Bush
Clover, White Herb Robert Sea Beet Vetch, Common
Cock’s foot Hogweed Sedge, Pendulous Vetch, Tufted
Colt’s-Foot Honesty, Annual Sedge, Remote Violet, Common Dog
Comfrey, Bulbous Hottentot Fig Sedge, Wood Violet, Early Dog
Comfrey, Common Kale, Sea Selfheal Violet, Sweet
Comfrey, Russian Leopard’s Bane, Large leaf Shepherd’s Purse Water-Dropwort, Hemlock
Cornsalad, Keeld-fruited Lousewort, Common Skunk Cabbage, American Winter Aconite
Corydalis, Yellow Lungwort Snowdrop Winter Heliotrope
Cowslip Mallow, Tree Snowdrop, Greater Woodruff, Sweet
Crane’s bill, Dove’s Foot Marigold, Marsh Snowflake, Summer Woodrush, Field
Crane’s-bill, Cut Leaved Marigold, Pot Solomon’s Seal Woodrush, Great
Crane’s-bill, Druce’s Meadow Grass, Annual Sorrel, Common Yarrow
Crane’s-bill, Dusky Medick, Black Sorrel, Pale Pink Yellow Archangel
Crane’s-bill, Shining Medick, Spotted Sorrel, Procumbent Yellow  
Crosswort Mind Your Own Business Sorrel, Sheep’s  
Cuckoo Flower Moschatel Sorrel, Wood  

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.