Sunday 31 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers 36 - Yellow 8 - Buttercups - Hay Meadow 2

Hi, I had a request for Hay Meadow Plants.

I'll do Buttercups - They are making the fields golden today.
(Really good Hay meadow fields from a conservation point of view have 20 or maybe 40 other species of flowering plant and sedge as well as buttercups, as well as many grasses.. I'll come to some of those species in future posts. Just buttercups alone doesn't make it a good meadow)

Did you know there are  three common species of buttercup?  (beyond the Goldilocks Buttercup already mentioned back in woodland in April)

Become a Buttercup buff:

1. Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
2. Meadow Buttercup: Ranunculus acris
3. Bulbous Buttercup: Ranunculus bulbosus 

1. Creeping Buttercup

Location: Round the edge of the field and where it is damper and where the soil has been exposed due to some sort of erosion; And on road verges
These have stolons - creeping shoots, so can spread quickly to colonise exposed soil, wet areas etc.

You can recognise them because
The central leaflet of the leaf is on a stalk
The sepals point upwards and the flower stalk is ribbed.
The petals in my view are a deeper gold and slightly bigger than the other two species.
It is the only one of the three that eventually grows creepers.

Creeping Buttercup sent in from Long Preston by C Sampson
Creeping Buttercup

2. Meadow Buttercup:
This grows in the main part of the fields and on road verges.

You can recognise them because 
The central leaflet is not on a stalk, the whole leaf looks more palmate. 
The sepals point upwards and the flower stalk is more slender and is not ribbed

3. Bulbous Buttercup:
This is much less common than the two above. It like the drier part of the field. If there are ridge and furrow in a field it grows on the ridges. It is common in our limestone fields.

You can recognise them because 
Its leaves are small and neat and grow in a neat rosette - and if you were to did it up they would be bulbous: The central leaflet of the leaf does have a very short stalk so it can look a little like Creeping Buttercup
The sepals point downwards. the flower stem is ribbed. 

Good luck buttercup hunting.

Saturday 30 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers 35 - Yellow 7- Pea family - Hay Meadow 1

We've just had two "rare for this area"  yellow flowered members of the pea family - Horseshoe Vetch and Kidney Vetch, And we had a tree- Lupin.  Now we have three commoner yellow members to look out for on any walk in fields around Settle. .. indeed in most parts of the UK.

The Bird's-foot Trefoil is a colourful contributor to a species rich traditional Dales Hay-meadow.

1. Bird's-foot Trefoil  (Lotus corniculatus)
2. Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)
3. Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)
 (A fourth you may be thinking of Yellow Meadow Vetchling is not out yet)

The pea family have nitrogen fixing bacteria in nodules in their roots, so thy can grow in places of low nitrogen fertility.

1. Bird's-foot Trefoil

Bird's-foot Trefoil 3 May 2020 Lower Winskill

The red that appears on the flowers leads to its other local name of "Eggs and Bacon"
It has 3 leaflets but also two big stipules so looks as though it has five leaflets.
Bird's-foot Trefoil 19 May 2017 Lower Winskill

2. Black Medick

Medicago lupulina  Black Medick 
Medicago lupulina  Black Medick 
I found this in soil exposed near paths in grassland near river banks - south of Settle, and near Stainforth and Langcliffe
Note the small green tooth - an extension of the leaf lamina - in the centre of the notch of each leaflet. Lesser trefoil below just has a notch.
Note the hairs on the calyx and general hairiness of the plant.
Lesser Trefoil below has a hairless calyx and much fewer hairs on the leaves.

3. Lesser Trefoil

I found this in profusion in a strip of mown grass on the pavement half way up "The Mains" in Settle and the house owner said he had lots more in his own lawn.

So both the Black Medick and the Lesser Trefoil grow in similar habitats - short - worn grassland - you have to look carefully at the differences described in the Medick section. In fact they are both small plants and you have to look carefully to see them at all!

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle 

Thursday 28 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 34 - Yellow 6 - More Limestone Specialities

Following on from yesterday, other plants high up on south facing cliffs and in shallow soil on limestone can include: (e.g. at Plantlife's Winskill  Stones)
1. - Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) and
2. - Rockrose - (Helianthemum nummularium)

1. Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria)

2. - Rockrose - (Helianthemum nummularium)

Rockrose - and note the shells of the Heath Snail, Helix itala

Rockrose is host for the caterpillars of the rare Northern Brown Argus Butterfly.  The Settle area is the most southern location for this butterfly in the UK

Not too sure what to add for a third plant . 
I  used up Horse-shoe Vetch yesterday  which was a possibility. Or I could add a leafy Hawkweed - Hieracium sp. and and admit I did not know exactly which species.. or better dig out my Yorkshire Hawkweeds book 
Or I could include Bulbous Buttercup; Or Tormentil. 
Or I could wish for the rare Alpine Cinquefoil. This, according to the BSBI Map, has been found within my walks radius of Settle, and which could grow on limestone cliffs.. but if it does grow near here, I don't know the location. 
Or I can put in a couple of yellow lichens:

Or I can just leave it as a two species Day. Yes - for now I'll just  I'll just do that. 

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 33 - Yellow 5 - Limestone Specialities

1.  Spring Cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana) 
2.  Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) 
3.  Glaucescent Lady's Mantle.(Alchemilla glaucescens)

Some of the special plants we have around Settle are here because they grow in specialised habitats. One such specialised habitat is shallow limestone soils, and cliff crevices - especially south facing ones. 

- They grow where vigorous plants cannot grow because the soils dry out. (And yes soils are drying out this year!!)

1. Spring Cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana)

Spring Cinquefoil - I took this picture in the evening - 6pm on 2 May - so the petals beginning curl up

See how the leaves have five leaflets
The soil was getting dry.  We are having a drought.  Other species on the shallow soil are suffering a lot. But Spring Cinquefoil seems quite happy

Here is a picture in the same area but taken in the middle of the afternoon and the petals are open (18 May 2010)

Distribution of Spring Cinquefoil - from BSBI maps

The Spring Cinquefoil comes out a week before its close relative Tormentil (Potentilla erecta). And on 2 May Tormentil was not out, so it was a good time to look for Spring Cinquefoil. Below is a picture of Tormentil (which I will cover in a c 3 days time) - this just has 4 petals and the leaves do not have 5 leaflets. Tormentil will grow for a much longer season and usually on much thicker and slightly more acid soil.

2. Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa)

This really is a more southern species and it chooses south facing slopes. This photo was taken on 2 May. But it is still flowering now (27 May)

 Horseshoe Vetch: Habitat shot - on cliffs with Blue Moor-grass

3.  Glaucescent Lady's Mantle.(Alchemilla glaucescens)

There are several different wild species of Ladies Mantle in the Dales. This is a rarish species, It seems to grow well on rocky  footpaths through limestone grassland. It has small leaves, The under surface of the leaves is hairy but the hairs are straight and appressed (not curved) and look silvery - the hairs frame the edge of the leaf. 

Glaucescent Lady's-mantle flowers - The are small. 

There are others in this category - special plants on shallow limestone soil or south facing cliff ledges that are just coming out

4. - Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria) and
5. - Rockrose - (Helianthemum nummularium) But I shall present them tomorrow

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle

SD86 - 01b - SD8061 - Rathmell - North - Drought - May 2020 - Lichens

20 May 2020.

 (Caution - stray surfers who drop in here - note: I am only an "intermediate" lichenologist - who welcomes constructive criticism and suggestions on some lichen identification) 

Here we are -  a year and a quarter into the 100 monads (1km squares) of my SD86 hectad survey i.e. the 10km square including Settle, of Settle Carlisle Railway fame. 

and I am back at only the second monad.  
I surveyed strip of 10 monads SD8060 to SD8069 last year (Rathmell to Helwith Bridge)  and initially aimed to do the adjacent strip of 10 more  SD8160 to SD8169 this year. 
I am here today because, with the Coronavirus Lockup, I am doing lots of walks (Settle Wildflower)  from home and from Settle - and today I am walking two miles downstream along the Ribble from Settle. 

And I have ended up back in SD8061

I am standing next to a large alder tree with an amazing covering of lichens on its trunk.

Amazing because the majority of the other trees around (and there are only about 16 large trees in the 1km square) have very few lichens.

The alder tree is 
to the right 
just off the picture.
Last time I was surveying near here I was limited as to where I could survey because of  ...
 - back in March 2019. 
So the base of this tree was then standing in one foot of water - and the depressions under several feet.  
Now we are in a drought.

I have only crept south into this monad by a few tens of meters. It is 8pm and I am making my way from the river Ribble  back to the road, having photographed Settle Sewage works for a photo project.  It is still light so I trundle across to an alder trunk not far off my route, lit up by the sun as it shines brightly. The sunlight, now parallel to the ground, dazzles into my eyes.

 - First I notice the frilly Evernia /Ramalina on the trunk - 
- and then that the trunk has abundant lichen nearly all the way round. In fact all the way round except for an area where cattle enjoy rubbing against it.
- and then that all the species seemed to be exceptionally isidiate or sorediate. (pictures at end.)
Is this really Parmelia saxatilis .. with so many isidia.. but no pseudocyphellae?

Is this a new species of Physcia with not just the tips of the lobes turned up and covered with soralia, but all the margin of the thallus?

Then I discover the Xanthoria polycarpa.

Shown here and magnified A LOT

Whoopee!. My first very own X. polycarpa in SD86  

(The above tuft measures about 1/2 cm across. Note it does not have much thallus. The very common Xanthoria parietina is different because it is big and has lots of thallus and just a relative few fruiting bodies scattered across it.)

Some may wonder at my enthusiasm for finding this.

Yes, Allan Pentecost showed me a piece at Malham Tarn several years ago but a) That was "his" and  b) It wasn't there the next year. - It is good to find a specimen for yourself.

(There is no dot for SD86 the distribution map of X. polycarpa in Dobson 2018), though I know that many records have been added to the BLS database since  then)

Those of you who have taken part in the OPAL Lichen Air Survey will know that on printed card there are three species designated as "Indicators of heavy N Pollution"  : Leafy Xanthoria (parietina) Cushion Xanthoria (polycarpa) and Physcia.

 But what does Cushion Xanthoria look like? I have been constantly asking, over at least 6 years. "We don't get it round Settle".. Gallons, acres, swimming baths full of Xanthoria parietina,  But no polycarpa.
In 2016 I found some polycarpa in Leeds in Meanwood Park preparing for the YNU students and blogged about it here  

Well back to the X polycarpa - there are about dozen small pieces of it on the trunk. There are some other yellow lichens too.

Possibly Candelariella reflexa and Xanthoria ucrainica

I work my way round the trunk at nose level and find a piece of Flavoparmelia caperata

Flavoparmelia caperata

and then - my  pièce de résistance - Parmellina pastillifera.  This is now the 9th monad I have found it in out of the 25 monad's I have looked at so far. (There we no records of this in the Hectad 6 years ago)

 Parmelina pastillifera

(pus Candelariella reflexa - the fine yellow powder bottom right)

Close-up of Parmelina pastillifera You can clearly see the black button-on-stalk shaped isidia

I makes me wonder, Why are some trees, indeed sometimes just a bough of a tree, able to support a good covering of lichen whilst so many other trees have none or hardly any at all.

Just as I am leaving I noticed that the tree was actually growing over a (now totally dry) drainage ditch, which went undergound here.  These drainage ditches must be very important in times of flooding. I wonder when they were built. 1700s? Late 1600s?

So why such good cover on certain individual trees?


1.The lichens benefited from the cows rubbing the tree.

2.The lichens benefited from the drainage ditch
3. There is some magic fungal (maybe  algal or bacterial) species present on this trunk - from which all the lichens on this trunk are benefitting. Maybe in some way the lichens help each other.


Any suggestions?


That evening I then got side-tracked into drainage ditches. (This one could easily be 250 or 300 years old - older than the tree)

The flat area between Settle and Hellifield used to be a glacial lake. 

The Ribble used to flow East into the Aire near Hellifield, continuing east to the Ouse,  Humber and North Sea. Ice sheets / glaciers flowed from the Lake District in the west and down the Ribble Valley. But at the end of the Ice age moraines and drumlins blocked the Ribble. It was a lake. It was diverted    south west back to Preston. 
See Long Preston Geotrail

And I got side tracked into into heights above sea level. 

The current Ribble bank and my Alder tree are at  128 m above sea level. But heights are for another day. 


Note till now I had only recorded 23 species in Monad SD8061
- It was only my second monad to record, when I was only attempting to visit a small sample area in each monad. (And let's face it.. floods did prevent further survey work... Also this monad does not seem very diverse habitat wise, and the areal photo only reveals about 15 big trees.)  If I can get 6 NEW species out of the ones I found today then I will have 29 species, and the colour of the square can change on my map.
Xanthoria ucrainica?

This picture is Ramalina farinosa
What is this?  (Lichen1)  (plus ordinary Physcia tenella top right)
I think this is Lecidella eleochroma
Xanthoria ucrainica?
Physcia tenella (including apothecium with black centre)  -bit all the margin of the thallus seems to have soredia .

Also Lecanora chlarotera, Xanthoria polycarpa, Melanelia glabratula (top left) Lecidella eleochroma (top middle left)

View of fields from Settle-Rathmell road. the alder tree is to the right just off the picture.

Is s Ramalina farinacea being very frilly?

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 32 - Yellow 4 - Langcliffe Locks

After the sedges at the Mill Pool at Langcliffe Locks, here are three yellow flowers you will see now on that walk.

1. Yellow Iris or Yellow Flag: Iris pseudacorus. 
This is a native plant

2. Laburnum 
This tree comes from SC Europe, and is a member of the pea family

Laburnum with Yellow Flag leaves in the right foreground

  3. Water Aven  or Herb Bennet (Geum urbanum)
Some of the plants on the walled footpath over the railway to Langcliffe  have very big petals and might be slightly hybridised with Water Avens.

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle