Wednesday 29 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 62 - Red 16 - Greater Burnet, Salad Burnet

1. Greater Burnet: 
Dark red-brown, marble-sized pompoms blowing in the wind. And just coming out now. I call it the Midland Railway Plant because it is the same colour as the Midland Railway - Settle Carlisle Line.

Here it is growing on a road verge 
next to the Settle Carlise Line, 
on the underpass leading to the Langcliffe Hoffman Kiln

I used to give a talk at Malham Tarn Field Centre Every year in July for the participants of the week's course that David Allison ran on "The Settle Carlisle Line  and other railways." I would collect a few flowers from the roadside near the railway - including Greater Burnet. to take up and show the group. When you look under a hand-lens you can see such detail and beauty as to blow your mind away.

The pompom is made of lots of separate flowers. Each flower has 4 dark red sepals, no petals, 4 anthers and one stigma that is papillate (Has tiny lumps - papillae on it)

It likes to grow in "traditional" Hay Meadows and damp lime rich places. It gives its name to the vegetation type found on traditionally managed flood meadows such as those at the Derwent  Ings. ( British NVC community MG4 Meadow Foxtail- Greater Burnet Grassland) 

There would once have been lots of this vegetation in the meadows between Long Preston and Settle. Now they have been reseeded and the Greater Burnet is gone, except for odd plants on the road verge.

It would once have been more common in traditional dales hay meadows, but now the meadows are cut so promptly after the first date allowable for cutting that that plants do not get chance to shed seed, unless they are growing on a field margin.

I remember when small and travelling by car to Weardale with my parents - ritual stops were made at certain fields to collect flowers to make burnet  wine. But that was over 50 years ago.

2. Salad Burnet:

Earlier in the year Greater Burnet's little sister "Salad Burnet" was in flower on several the grazed limestone slopes I walked over.  The pinnate leaves are very similar to Greater Burnet, but smaller. And smell and taste of Cucumber.
The flowers are different: The top flowers in the pompom are all female - they have  red

Salad Burnet on Langcliffe Brow

Since both species have once pinnate leaves and both grow on limestone soils, how do can you tell them apart when they are not flowering?

Greater Burnet Leaves

Greater Burnet

Salad Burnet

On the topic of the Settle Carlisle Line, 
Why not 
a) Visit the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line Shop at Settle - where you can buy cups of tea, ice cream and gifts and cards. - normally open 10 - 3.15 daily but currently depends on volunteer availability. This is one of the 45 places within 2.6 miles of Settle where you can buy food or drinks or (some eat in, some take away)

b) Go on a trip on the Staycation Train from Skipton to Appleby and back (It does stop at Settle) - It started last week and runs three times a day.
You will see Greater Burnet on some of the banks of the trackside .


 Malham Tarn Field Centre 8-Aug-2013:-

Greater Burnet, Knapweed and Devil's-bit Scabious on Tarn Close the lawn at Malham Tarn Field Centre 8-Aug-2013

Sunday 26 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 61 - Red 15 - Common Figwort and Green Figwort but no Water Figwort

I remember learning to recognise Figwort as a small child - to me, the dark red flowers like little helmets are intriguing and distinctive. It has square stems. It belongs to the Figwort Family - Scrophulariaceae.  The fruit is a TWO-celled ovary.

1. Common Figwort - Scrophularia nodosa

25 June 2020 Ribble  
just south of 
Station road, Settle

25 July 2020 
Hoffman Kiln Yard, 

Common figwort - Scrophularia nodose  25 July 2020
Can you see the four lower stamens, producing pollen. 
Then the dark structure above them is the staminode 
(A structure derived from a stamen but it does not produce pollen.

So it is different to the Lamiaceae (labiates) whose fruit is FOUR nuts together, nestling the green calyx, as in as Wild Basil, Betony, Selfheal and Bugle

Common Figwort grows in "weedy disturbed habitats". - such as in towns. I found some by the Ribble just south of Settle earlier this year, and yesterday I found some at the Hoffman Kiln yesterday including in the area that the Council would like to develop. It is a common plant. (See map at end of this post)
Key feature: Its four sided stem is NOT winged.

2. Water Figwort
Water Figwort Scrophularia auriculata and Green Figwort Scrophularia umbrosa  both have winged stems and look very similar to each other and grow in wet places.

Long ago I used to call every Figwort I found with a winged stem "Water Figwort"   because the distribution map show it is much commoner than Green Figwort.

However... All the figwort plants with winged stems I have looked at in the last few years around Settle have turned out to be the much less common Green Figwort Scrophularia umbrosa.
We found some with the BSBI in ditches in the fields that flood near the Ribble south of Runley Bridge last July on their Summer Trip, and also just below the Skipton Bypass.

This week I went to the Hoffman Kiln near Langcliffe. There are two deep trenches/ cuttings where trains came to either the side of the kiln with trucks to collect the Lime. Although the one at the east (hill) side dried up in the drought in May, it is normally filled with a deep wet pool. Earlier in the year I had seen a big figwort growing in it so I went back this week.  The pool was too deep and brambly to wade in. I leaned of the edge of the footpath and took photos: 

Green Spleenwort at the Hoffman Kiln,
 growing amongst Meadowsweet

I am happy it is Green Figwort because Green Figwort has rhizomes; it has up to 40 to 50 serrate-crenate teeth on each side of the leaves, and the base of the leaf tends to be cuneate.  (
Water Figwort on the other hand, is tufted not rhizomatous, has 25-32 teeth per side of leaf, and is more cordate at the base of the leaf

But I could not access a flower. So I show here is a photo of the flower I collected at Skipton Bypass last year

If you look inside a Figwort flower you will see it has four stamens (anther on a stalk)  and the fifth stamen is replaced by a dark red staminaode (a sterile stamen) just above them.  In Green Figwort the staminode has TWO lobes:   (Water Figwort would just have one lobe)

Green Figwort at Skipton Bypass underpass. 

If you know of a Water Figwort site near Settle do Tell me.

Below: Maps taken from the BRC and BSBI website.

Green Figwort - S umbrosa
Water Figwort - Scrophularia umbrosa
Common Figwort - Scrophularia nodosa

Saturday 25 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 60 - Red 14 - Magenta - Wild Basil & Lamb's-ear; Creeping & Spear Thistle ( Thistles and Labiates 3)

First thanks to Andy Holden who 2 weeks ago .. when I asked "What do you think will come after Betony? (Stachys officinalis)", suggested Lamb's-Ear.
"What's Lamb's Ear?" I thought. And looked it up. Ah another Stachys

Lamb's-Ear is a cultivated plant: Stachys byzantina. Like many other cultivated plants it is now presented in Stace, and on the BSBI website as it can occasionally be found "escaped".

This specimen was not "escaped" but is growing happily at the entrance to Langcliffe village next to someone's garden. Its leaves have a lovely texture. The plant does smell very slightly of Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica)


The only other Stachys we MIGHT get in this area is Stachys palustris. - Hedge Woundwort. but the only sites I know of are at Helwith Bridge and near Gordale Scar.. both too far to walk to in my current tie schedule.

However this lunchtime (25 July) I was DELIGHTED to find another labiate:
Clinopodium vulgare - Wild Basil (map). 

It is in the "derelict" area at the Hoffman Kiln that the Council hope to develop into workshops. (So its future does not look secure.).  I was on a day's "Zoom Call" and we had an hour off for lunch, and I took fresh air and explored the old yard at the Hoffman Kiln.

I have only found Wild Basil once (or maybe twice) before in Craven. and that time was also in the Hoffman Kiln Area. But the plant I found today was a much bigger plant. The BSBI map says it has not been found in our area since 1999. I wonder if that was my record too?

Yeah litter - perhaps I should have cropped it out.

The Labiate family have square stems and often a strong smell. Their fruit consist of four nuts. The flowers  have an upper and a lower lip, though the lips may be lobed..

It is a much less branched plant than Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) which also grows in the Hoffman Kiln area. (Look forward to that another day)

The two thistles are Creeping Thistle and Spear Thistle.

Creeping Thistle - Cirsium arvense with ladybird - at Langcliffe Mill Pond.

Spear Thistle - Cirsium vulgare at the Hoffman Kiln sheds.

Friday 24 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 59 - Red 13 - Magenta - Knapweed - and a face mask that lets deaf people lip-read

Just received the face-mask I sent off for. Thank you to Feltbybex at Etsy . And big thank you to the dental surgery - Diamond Smiles at Barnoldswick for fixing my teeth last week.
Knapweed - Centaurea nigra - just coming out now
Now I can go shopping and still tell my Hard of Hearing friends about the wonderful flowers we can see on walks around Settle - In the picture a Knapweed (purple) and the picture lower down, Meadow Cranesbill (blue) Ordinary masks must give a terrible barrier to deaf people who rely on lip-reading. The Knapweed comes from Colt Park meadow near Ribblehead where I have been working for a month and was planted there as part of an experiment many years ago. I kept some flowers when they cut the grass for hay on Monday. Knapweed seems to be a wildflower that will survive in a glass of water and not wilt. This variety has longer outer florets than our normal Knapweed.
Meadow Crane's-bill from my garden,
but lots in the roadside opposite too.

Keep following
(this blog) to see what flowers I continue to find around Settle. If you live in walking distance of Settle or Langcliffe and would like to join me and possibly other members of Craven Conservation Group on an afternoon or evening walk (2m apart of course, and only up to 6 people total), do get in touch. ---------------
The next section is side tracking a little - because it is Colt Park 12 miles away, not Settle.. (and I may move this section onto a separate page sometime - But I'll get it up now whilst it is topical - and it shows where the odd knapweed came from
Recording the plots on Sunday 19 July.
The farmer is in the background with the tractor
cutting the main part of the field outside the plots.
There is some Knapweed in the right foreground

Monday 20 July - and the plots are "being "shorn"

As I leave Colt Park on Mon 20 July I notice the "Staycation Luxury Skipton to Appleby train" returning down the Settle Carlisle Line with Pen y Ghent in the Distance - at 15:19 - It is the first day that this service has been running.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 58 - Red 12 - Pink - Prunus cerasifera - Cherry Plum - but which?

This photo is from in Giggleswick Churchyard on 23 April. 

I should have posted this on Day 15 (29 April) instead of now in late July as Day 58
I hope to go and look at the tree again this coming week , in the remote hope it may have fruit.

25 April - at the start of a walk up the B6480 up towards Bucker Brow - so quiet during Lockdown. Cherry Plum in the foreground

My friend Doris Cairns is writing a book about the wild life in Giggleswick churchyard, illustrated by her paintings. It has a map of the trees in the churchyard. This copper coloured Prunus species (Prunus cerasifera - Pissardii - Nigra - presents a problem as we are not sure what English name to give it.

Can any Settle Gardeners out there tell us? We are referring to this copper coloured variety, not just ordinary Cherry Plum.

It is not one of Britain's native species. It is native to Southeast Europe and Western Asia, and is naturalised in the British Isles.
Stace (the UK botanisits' main Wildflower book) and the BSBI website both now include a lot of non-native species - If botanists can recognise them they can record them and we will be able to see which "Garden Escapes" are becoming naturalised.

There is a display reminding people of Doris's forthcoming book in Gigglewick Church put up by Margaret Fox on Friday.  (Next to it is a display of the Pebbles painted by children in Settle and placed around Settle over the past few months). I have added a few pictures from this blog to the bottom of the display - including the question - "What do we call this cherry?"

Black Cherry Plum? Purple Cherry Plum? Pissard's Cherry Plum?

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 57 - Red 11 - Pink - Willowherbs in Miss Victoria's Tea Garden

Visitors to, 
and Residents of, 
will be raring to go to Miss Victoria's Refreshment Garden 
(also known as the bit of spare land outside Victoria Hall, Britain's longest running Music Hall).
Correction - World's Oldest Music Hall.

They will be going,

not for the delicious drinking chocolate with marshmallows and huge range of sandwiches including coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise..

not for the company of meeting other people on the lawn, sitting on comfortable chairs under the gazebos to shelter from the sun and in case of the rare (!?) showers we get at Settle

not for the chance to pick up lots of bargains at the sale of useful goods in the hall sold in aid of the Hall - a treasure-trove of vintage articles of the finest quality, (I picked up a copy of the sheet music of Carol Kings Tapestry songs to play on my accordion - thanks whoever donated it)

No .. they will be going to see today's three pink flowers:-

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)
Great Willowherb - or Codlins and Cream (Epilobium hirsutum)

Broad-leaved Willowherb (Epilobium montanum)

Back/Midground: Rosebay Willowherb
Foreground: Greater Willowherb -just coming out (See lower for closerups)

Drinking chocolate with marshmallow

The leaves of Broad-leaved Willowherb are wide near the base

Broad-leaved Willowherb - you may even have this prize plant as a weed in your garden. Note the way the style
 divides into four stigmas.

Here is a close up of Greater Willowherb - Epilobium hirsutm

Which is also growing beside the Mill Pool near 
the Locks at Langcliffe

It also has four stigmas

Monday 13 July 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 56 - Red 10 - Magenta - Marsh Thistle and Hedge Woundwort - (Thistle and Labiate 2)

On the previous "Day" we had two of my favourite plants: Melancholy Thistle and Betony.  They are a thistle and a labiate. Today we have another thistle and another labiate - but much more common ones -  They are still plants that I would classify as "Of interest": Marsh Thistle and Hedge Woundwort

Marsh Thistle - See purple base to spines

There are three common thistles in the fields around Settle: Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle and Marsh Thistle. I will deal with the first two another day. They are both classified as "Weeds" in the Weeds Act of 1959 that landowners are legally supposed to discourage. 
but they have their uses - Goldfinches really enjoy their seeds. 

Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre) grows in marshy or damp grassland.  The  three grow throughout the UK. Blanket coverage.

There are two less common thistles that may grow around Settle but I have not found them yet on my walks: The very similar Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) - this has a more eastern distribution .  I wish I could see one to add to my collection this year. And the larger Nodding Thistle Carduus nutans - which looks very similar to Spear Thistle.

So how do we tell them all apart? Especially when they are not flowering.  I looked it up in Poland and Clement: "The vegetative key to the British Flora" which no good botanist should be without.

1a. Basal leaves persistently white cottony at least below - Creeping Thistle. (Its leaf spines are 3mm, and it is very rhizomatous and spreading).
(Also Melancholy thistle and Carline thistle come out here but they look very different)
1b. Basal leaves with at least some hairs on either side, but cottony hairs scarce or absent, at least when young. Go to 2

2a. Leaves spiny to touch (Can pierce skin) - Spear Thistle (and also Musk Thistle but that is rare around here)  Go to 4
2b. Leaves weakly spiny to touch (Cannot pierce skin) - Marsh Thistle or Welted Thistle - Go to 3

Well there we have it - just try and see of the spines pierce the skin!!!

3a. Spines along leaf margin 3 to 5 mm -  leaves often +- shiny green above;  leaves oblanceolate, septate hairy both sides:  spines purple at base.  Marsh Thistle. Stems to 170cm with continuous spiny wings
3b. Spines along leaf margin 3mm - leaves dull above; leaves elliptic Welted Thistle. Stems to 140cm with narrow spiny wings. cottony.

4a. Leaf spines with swollen yellowish base; petiole base not purplish:  Spear Thistle
4b. Leaf spines with sometimes purple base. Petiole base purplish. Musk Thistle

Well all we have today is Marsh Thistle: 

Marsh Thistle: 
Well some of these spines are more than 3mm. Some more than 5mm

Marsh Thistle- Marshy area in field near Stainforth 16 June

Guest pictures from near Colt Park Wood with Penyghent in the background:

Hedge Woundwort -  Stachys sylvatica

If you are not sure if your plant is Hedge Woundwort or not, try crushing the leaves and smelling them.
If it is Hedge Woundwort you will know!!!

This grows in hedgerows and roadsides. 90 percent of our hedgerow walks around Settle have  Hedge Woundwort now at the middle of July.

Hedge Woundwort

I invited people to guess which plants I would be doing today.
One person -Andy - suggested Stachys byzantina . "Big Ears or "Lambs Ears - This is another  Stachys -It is a garden plant - so I have been looking out for it..
I found some late this evening.. So it too will be coming shortly.