Tuesday 30 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 53 - Red 8 - Pink: Orchids and Hay Meadow 7

Orchids are a popular group.

Whilst these four species below can be found in meadows, they are more likely to be found in "Recolonising habitats" such as quarries or road verges, or in "Low nutrient  pastures that are managed as meadows in that animals are kept out during May and June" of which there are a few around Settle which are managed as such for conservation reasons: they do not have fertilizer and cow muck applied.

1. Bee orchids 
These are  fascinating when viewed closely. They can grow in quarries and on on railway embankments (e.g. in or near Settle Calisle Line)  when the ground is mostly gravel and has not yet become colonised by dense vegetation

2. Fragrant Orchids

Fragrant orchids -- smell .. Mmm fragrant - like a bottle of perfume . They have a long narrow spur at the back of the flower. 

These two Fragrant Orchids were photographed three weeks ago - they were just coming out.

Another Fragrant Orchid

3. Common Spotted Orchids  - Dactylorhiza fuschii can come in a variety of colours.

Bucker Brow  29 June 2020

(Guest phot from Colt Park Meadows  experimental plots)

4. Northern Marsh Orchid

It is hard to find a Northern Marsh Orchid within 2 miles of Settle.  I In the place I was searching I (a damp road verge) I only found one.. and looking at the picture now, even that may be a hybrid.
Twenty years ago there used to be lots at this site. Now there are none - apart from this specimen.  The vegetation is growing very rank, with Rosebay Willowherb and trees on the bank and uncut grass next to the road.


Any comments?  I am open to suggestions.  I am not an orchid expert.

Here is an old picture from Malham Tarn Fen of a Northern Marsh Orchid?
An old picture from Malham Tarn Fen

And here is one from Malham Tarn this year - but these are definitely "Guest photographs." I had to cheat and drive to get them, so it is out of my 3 mile walking radius of Settle.

Near Malham Tarn 9 June 2020

Friday 26 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 52 - Red 7 - Pink: Dog Rose and Rest Harrow

I have a backlog of pinks - but must show some up to date pictures too. 
Here are two favourites:  Dog Rose (Rosa canina) at the beginning of June and  Rest Harrow (Ononis repens) at the end of June

1. Dog Rose
comes out at the beginning of June:

Not before (and the same for garden roses)

Rosa canina has hairless leaves, and the spines on the stem curve backwards.

On Thursday 25 June after a hot day I parked at Booths and went out in the late afternoon to search for the leaves of the Rest Harrow that I had seen in May beside the Ribble in the fields south of Penny Bridge.  And I was really delighted to find it - somehow the cattle and sheep had not grazed it.

Whilst this plant is not particularly rare, the next nearest plants I remember seeing are near the Wharfe above Grassington - and then at Quarry Moor Ripon.

Its leaves smell of guava when crushed. You used to be able to buy tinned guava in the supermarket 20 years ago but I have not been able to find it recently.

It is called Rest Harrow because apparently it would block up the harrow.

Click here for  more flowers coming out around Settle

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 51 - Red 6 - Pink - Moorland: Cowberry and Crowberry

It is now four weeks since my walk to Hunter Bark on that hot sunny day on 25 May.  I met a young man from the Fish and Chip shop (furloughed) who kindly asked if I knew the way. Later a couple from Long Preston bird watching. Otherwise it was very quiet. I was delighted to find these two moorland plants. I did find a few bilberry plants but not as good as below Cleatop.

It took me six hours on my walk starting from Greenfoot CarPark, from 3.45pm to after 9.45pm  (See pictures at end) - when I met two friends who had taken two hours to do the same walk earlier in the day)

1. Cowberry: Vaccinium vitis idae 

This will have fruit similar to bilberries, but red. 
They are edible, but as I only saw a few plants I do not recommend picking them. the leaves are rounder than bilberry leaves and are tougher and evergreen.

You can see I enjoyed it -I stayed out till almost sunset - and then had to walk two miles back to Settle. .. and why is it one so often finds the best things near the end?

2. Crowberry - Empetrum nigrum

You can see the anthers on the flowers. It shows the flowers are small.

This has tiny black berries - I have tasted them once but do not recommend them. This is a northern plant.


I had set off from Settle earlier in the day, passing the Red Valerian
in Upper Settle at 4pm

And returning at 9.30pm via Peart Crags which gave me this view as I dropped down.

Click here for  more flowers coming out around Settle

We are now into pinks and reds!!!

Sunday 21 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 50a - White 15 - Hay Meadow 6

Hay Meadow flowers: Today - White Hay Meadow Flowers.

It is also Mid Summers Day - and Day 50 of the  Settle Wildflowers. I have written a separate post: Reflections on Lockdown Wallks at Day 50 at Midsummer 

All the flowers below could potentially grow in a Hay Meadow but several of the pictures were taken in other habitats.

Most Settle Meadows are just green and they are Ryegrass Silage Meadows, not Hay Meadows. The farmer does not have to wait for a lot of dry days to cut the grass to make Hay. The farmer calls in the contractors and they  cut the grass in a few days and put it in silage bags.

Some meadows are white with a lot of Cow Parsley - that indicates a fair amount of nutrients too. But I covered Cow Parsley a month back.

Road verges often have more hay meadow/woodland edge flowers than do most hay meadows.

But it is still worth looking out for good hay meadows, and field edges.

1. Ox-eye Daisy 
Some few meadows can feature Ox-eye Daisy...

Ox-eye Daisy on The Mains, Settle

2. Eyebright  Euphrasia agg

Eye-bright, like Yellow Rattle is a parasite on grasses; 29 May, Lord's Pasture (which is managed by keeping stock out in early summer;

3. Meadowsweet  Filipendula ulmaria

An Early Meadowsweet at the Hoffman Kiln 18 June

4. Hogweed: Heracleum sphondylium

Hogweed that got away at Lower Winskill Farm 12 June

5. Mouse-ear  Cerastium fontanum

Mouse-ear - Cerastium fontanum 20 June - Colt Park.  This could also be found in the streets of Settle and in your garden

The pictures below are "Guest Pictures" from the work I started doing last week and am now able to do for four weeks at Ingleborough, ten miles from home.

I am carrying out some plant monitoring on the Long term monitoring plots at the Colt Park Hay Meadows on Ingleborough. It is six whole years since thy were last surveyed. I am lucky that we are now  allowed to travel, so is possible for me to do this work

Settle Wildflowers - Day 50b - Reflections at Midsummer

Well -  Day 50! 

50 blog posts; 150  wildflowers - all within easy walking distance Settle and home near Langcliffe, 1.5 miles away. i.e. withing 2 miles of each place, a sort of 6 mile oval shape. 

I have had a great time, discovering new walks; Seeing different plants come out at different times. I have combined it with searching for lichens too. 

I started posting on 11 April with Day 1, ten weeks ago.

Lockdown started on 23 March.
The end of March and beginning of April had been spent searching for lichens before the leaves come on the trees. 

Now the lockdown is coming to an end how can I maintain may freedom to continue with these walks? 

Can I have self discipline to do them, rather than relying on society banning car use and travel?

Whilst people in England have been able to drive to a distant place "to exercise" for several weeks now, (since ... May). I  only made use of this "freedom"  to drive  on 6 occasions necessary occasions.  I finally had to buy some fuel at the garage after 2 months!

So it left me plenty of time for local exercise walks 

- until a week ago. 

On Saturday 13 June, I started recording the Colt Park Hay Meadow Plots, ten miles from home which takes a big chunk out of most days. This is a four week job. It is long term monitoring and repeats the survey I carried out 6 years ago.

But I will keep up the walks 

Each post is followed up with a tweet and a post on Facebook.. Thank you to those friends and others in Settle and Langcliffe and elsewhere who encourage me.

Look - It is Midsummer now. And I am at blogpost 50.

Is this half way. Can I go on to Day 100 - in another 10 weeks time? ..   Maybe. Will there be enough new wild flowers to keep going?

Can I go on for another 50 Days?

We'll see.

Watch this space...


I made a resolution to do one long local walk a week, starting as usual from home or from near the food shops in Settle. 
(So walks starting after a say five mile car ride from Settle don't count)

(Long in terms of time.. If the plants are good I don't get very far).

On Wednesday I had a local walk in the evening and found.. Bird's-eye primrose!!.. yes within 3 miles of Settle.

This morning  (Sunday 21 June) I had a very local walk - my back and front garden - as part of the Great Yorkshire Creature Count. 12 noon Sat-12 noon Sun.

I submitted my 43 observations of - it turned out 25 species - in the last half hour of the 24 hours. It is the first time I have used iNaturalist and taken part in such an event. Learning all the time!!!

Friday 19 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 49 - White 14 - From Ground Elder to Elder to Guelder Rose then other members of the honeysuckle family

1. Ground Elder  Aegopodium podagraria - is a member of the Umbellifer family. The leaves are edible, but more tender if picked early in the year.

This Ground Elder was the first to come into flower in the Mains on 29 May. It will be familiar to many gardeners. 

A plant with similar looking leaves and flowers is:

2. The Elder Tree or Elderberry  Sambucus niger

Elderflowers on 1st June

Now this is a "food for free" plant I can recommend: Elder flower Fritters.  Dip  one of the big flowerheads as in the picture above into batter (Yorkshire-pudding batter - same as pancake batter) then fry in deep fat for 20 seconds - then serve with lemon-juice and sugar.

Elderflowers have fused petals (they start of as a tube and then have five lobes. They are members of the Honeysuckle family.
The Honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae) are the only woody plants with fused petals, inferior ovary and stamens only 4 or 5.

Another member of the Honeysuckle family is Guelder Rose

3.  Guelder Rose 
Viburnum opulus 

Guelder Rose

It is interesting that its head of flowers are arranged like many umbellifers with bigger flowers at the edge.. This one is planted near the path that leads down from the Langcliffe village over the railway to the Caravan Site.

When I was in Addingham on 16 March - (that was before  Lockdown on March 23) a friend showed me a garden shrub and taught me its name.

4. Viburnum tinus - Eve Price


On 1 June I was walking in the path beside the railway to the Hofman Kiln I espied a shrub with these beautiful flowers - arranged in pairs.

5. Weigela florida

Yes it too is a member of the Honeysuckle family too. It is Weigela florida - a garden escape

Click here for more flowers coming out around Settle

Thursday 18 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 48 - White 13 - Water Crowfoot

One Water Crowfoot, Two Water Crowfeet?

There are several species of Water Crowfoot - species of Ranunculus (buttercup) with white petals that grow in water. For the moment I won't say exactly which species these are - Just enjoy!

Water-crowfoot in the Ribble south of Runley Bridge 20 May

Water-crowfoot in the Ribble south of Runley Bridge 20 May

A different species in Tems Beck, Giggleswick - 11 May

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 47 - White 12: Cottongrasses

What makes Cottongrasses white?

It is actually the long hairs attached to the base of the fruit of the Cottongrasses that are white.

What is the difference between the two common species? 

Hare's-tail Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum) has one head per shoot, and narrow bristle-like leaves. 
Common  Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) has several heads per shoot and wide grass/sedge like leaves with long narrow red leaf tips. 

Where do they grow?

Both  grow in peat bogs. 

There is very little peat bog close (within 3 miles) to Settle. But that makes me value the tiny patches that exist the more valuable.

Cottongrasses (Eriophorum genus) belong to the Sedge family (Cyperaceae)

A third of the four British species of Eriophorum - Broad-leaved Cottongrass  grows 7 miles from Settle in calcareous mire, but that is too far to go on lockdown walks.

Mike Donald mentions Cottongrass in his song "Land of the Pennine God" about an accident on the Settle Carlisle Line in 1910. And 10 miles north of Settle there is lots of it on the Moors.

"Travelling the land of the Pennine God 
Through the cotton grass and the brown peat bog
Through the land of the ice and fog
Land of the Pennine God"

But not much within Settle Parish


 I finally made it up to Hunter Bark on 25 May this year: This is an area of heather moorland on millstone grit between Settle and Long Preston Parish rising to 315 m (1033ft) at the trig point. The Ribble meanders in the valley below at 126 metres (413 feet), and the Settle Carlisle Line nearby, a few metres higher to raise it above the flood level. 

In 1993 I drew a panoramic sketch if the View from Hunter Bark and it was printed in Settle Community News Number 5. Well done to all who have produced the News ever since then!  .. Maybe I should photocopy that drawing when I get more time.

OK back to the Cottongrasses.

1. Hare's-tail Cottongrass

Hare's-tail Cottongrass: Eriophorum vaginatum 25 May Hunter Bark. It grows in tussocks and has bristle-like leaves

2. Common Cottongrass


Common Cottongrass- Eriophorum angustifolium still young - the white hairs will get longer: 25 May Hunter Bark. 
It has grass/sedge like leaves but with long red tips. It can grow in bog pools.


Another member of the Cyperaceae growing on the peat at Hunter Bark is Deer Grass - Trichophorum germanicum. It has brown flowers and fruit, not white - but I think I'll just pop it in here for now.

Deer-grass Trichophorum germanicum

Deer-grass Trichophorum germanicum

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 46 - White 11 - Bedstraw family 1

Bedstraws have  narrow leaves in whorls - of usually 4 to 6 (-12) 
Three common white bedstraws in flower now within lockdown walk of Settle/Langcliffe are: 
Heath Bedstraw, Limestone Bedstraw (special to upland limestone in North of Britain) and Marsh Bedstraw
Galium saxatile, Galium sterneri and Galium palustre:

1. Heath Bedstraw: Galium saxatile

This grows on acid soils. It has forward pointing hooks on the edge of its leaves. The tip of the leaves have a very short spine (point/mucron), but are more rounded than Limestone Bedstraw below

Mitchell Lane that runs up the hill south of Settle is on millstone grit, so the road verges there have Heath Bedstraw

Heath Bedstraw  25 May

Looking close 

Heath Bedstraw - Forward pointing hooks on the leaves

2. Limestone Bedstraw: Galium sterneri

This grows on limestone soils and rocks in the north of Britain. It has backward pointing hairs on the leaves,  Its leaves are more tapering and the point at the tapering tip of the leaf is long.
(Take care because deeper soil in limestone areas can support Heath Bedstraw)

Limestone Bedstraw: 5 June

Limestone Bedstraw: See the long spine at the leaf tips

You cannot see the backwards pointing hooks on these leaves in this picture.  I need to go out and take another picture.  I will add one when I get one. I just went on a 30 min walk now - only to prove that Limestone Bedstraw does not grow low down close to my house, only high up away from civilisation and pollution.

3. Marsh Bedstraw. Galium palustre

This has slightly rough stems;  (The two species above have smooth stems)  The leaves do not have a spine at the tip, They just have an acute end (or very occasionally a very very short one) .

The hairs /hooks on the edges of the leaves, especially the part of the leaf nearest the stem point backwards.
The hairs/hooks near the tips can point various ways.

It grows in wet areas.

Marsh Bedstraw: Galium palustre;  16 June

Marsh Bedstraw: Galium palustre

Marsh Bedstraw: Galium palustre