Monday 30 November 2020

Settle Wldflowers - Day 97 - White 20: Osier Willow- 03 - SD8063b - Swaw Beck and lichens

On 29 November I park near Gildersleets near the A65 bypass at the beginning of  Swaw Beck Lane. Growing from overhanging branches over the verge are shoots with the white catkins/buds of Osier or basket willow - Salix viminalis.

This is one of the willows where the leaves come out before the flowers usually in Feb/March 

,My walk leads from Gildersleets to Craven Arms, near Giggleswick Station, Settle,  from 3pm till 4.15pm, by which time it is dark. I go on to make repeat walks on 30th and on 1 Dec.

Earlier in the year I had had walked past the end of this overgrown "forgotten" beck filled with waterside plants, left behind when the bypass was built, and had planned to go an explore it. 

This Osier is THE only plant I find in flower - but I find a variety of lichens., and a link in the waterway system of this part of Craven.

This blog post will talk about

  1. the Salix viminalis

  2. the three walks I make to Swaw Beck and the Lichens I find.

  3.  how I discover that Swaw Beck is the top end of Long Preston Deeps "Lake" and how it collects the water from the glacial overflow channels at Craven Ridge when ice flowed up from the Wenning Catchment (and the south of the Lake District).

 And will also mention the Bramble I see -e.g. at Castleberg Cliff in Settle itself on the  1 Dec (and that were out by the Ribble footpath opposite Settle Dairy on 1 Nov)

Back to the Willow 

 Osier is used by basket makers because the young twigs are long and straight.

My willow does have three features of Crack Willow:- 1.very long narrow leaves, 2. it lookss like a tree, rather than a bush, and  3. the twig snapped easily off the parent branch.

However the following features are those of the Osier:

The under surface of the leaf has lots of appressed short silky hairs,  (Crack willow leaves are hairless underneath)

The buds do not have a leaf scale

The bracts of the female flowers have lots of long silky hairs densely pilose (I dissected the bud)

Catkins  appear before leaves in late Feb/March (though 29 Nov is a bit extreme) In Crack Willow the flowers appear later, at the same time as the leaves.

Now a digression to describe the Beck and the landforms and height of this part of Craven in more detail. Somehow it is satisfying to know how high or low one is in relation to surrounding features. to really be aware of one's place in the environment.

Here is a picture I took of (though I did not know it then) of Swaw beck  on 16 March 2019, overflowing into the adjacent field between Swaw beck and the bypass.   

Swaw Beck is located at 131m above sea level
 - at the top of "Lake of Long Preston Deeps"

- and at the foot of the slope to Craven Ridge (Low Paley Green) 2 miles away and 35m (100ft) higher at 167m. This slope has glacial overflow channels. Craven Ridge separates the land of the River Wenning flowing to the west, from the land of the River Ribble, here flowing east. The Ribble in pre-glacial times carried on into the river Aire. So in pre-glacial times Craven Ridge was the lowest part separating the East of England from the West. And I think it still is.

To be precise, the track cutting of  the Leeds-Giggleswick-Morecambe Line follows this lowest path. The surveyors in those days, with their chains,  must have chosen the lowest route.

The drumlins between Hellifield and Gargrave are high too, where they blocked the Ribble. The railway cuts through the drumlins at about 151m. The Aire to the East is at 121m at Priesthome Bridge and the Ribble to the west now cut down to c122m at Cow Bridge These are estimates (

Swaw Beck Lane is a tiny lane running parallel to the Bypass. It runs from Gildersleets to The Craven Arms near Giggleswick Station.  The field between the Lane and the Bypass floods when Long Preston Deeps floods - so it is more or less the top end of the Long Preston Deeps Lake. 

Amazing.  Giggleswick Railway Station is built right over  Swaw Beck. The beck emerges from under the railway station. Just think, when they built the Leeds Giggleswick Morecambe Line, they did not have bulldozers and mechanical diggers. Swaw Beck is fed by Storth Gill and also by Carr Beck which is fed by Craven Ridge  Syke near Low Paley Green at 166 m Storth Gill Beck and Carr Beck both go underground (or must have been "put underground" )

and then emerge as Swaw Beck just SE of the Railway Bridge at Giggleswcik Station. 

Lichens - 

I may move this section to a separate lichens post for SD8062  -one day.
I am back surveying SD 8062.. only the 3rd monad in my hectad - yet I have approached this monad by five other routes - I see I recorded 25 species the first time and with other sites added it came to 42 - Let's see how I do restricting myself to Shaw Beck Lane.

After leaving my car at Gildersleets, at the beginning of the lane I meet Geoff Naylor, a member of Craven Conservation Group. "What,  you have never been along this lane before!" he says with surprise.

Swaw Beck Lane - the beck on the right.
The lichen on the tarmac is Verrucaria muralis

Rather wet Verrucaria muralis

I showed him the Lecanora muralis on the tarmac road. I showed him Xanthoria parietina - which turns red with KOH and Candelariella vitelina which does not.

Some Punctellia subrudecta on the wall.
The soralia (powdery lumps) go red when bleach is applied

Not sure what this lichen is.  It has yellowish soralia (powdery lumps) 
The blob of bleach near my finger on the right
 turned slightly yellow.

This lichen is Porpidia tuberculosa.
It has blue silvery soralia (powdery lumps).
But this one has four big discs -
This species does not  fruit often in the UK,
but these look like big fruiting bodies.

The wall by the lane is made mostly out of sandstone with the odd brick, limestone rock and lump of tarmac thrown in. The field on the west (the one that floods) is reseeded. The wall has lots of alga- Klebsormidium crenulatum and others on it, no doubt fertilised by spray manure and fertiliser. There are some ash trees along the lane overhanging the wall, which is why I found some tree species on the wall. e.g. Pertusaria amara (peppery rather than bitter taste.. though it got more bitter later) ..  The beck and trees by the beck in the north  half had just been cut or trimmed or pruned, and some branches shredded and left on the verge.

Parmelia saxatilis
Punctelia subrudecta
Physcia adscendens
Xanthoria parietina
Candelariella vitelina
Lecanora campestris
Porpidia tuberculosa
Pertusaria amara (under ash)
Lecanora gangaleoides/Tephromela atra
Physconia grisea?

On the trees themselves, the usual: 

Lecidella eleochroma
Lecanora chlaroterra
Physcia tenella
Arthonia radiata

By the time I have crossed the bypass to the extension of Swar Beck lane and Beck beside the Railway it railway bridge (Just before Giggleswick Station) it is beyond twilight I turn round to come home - and on the most wooded bank notice a Peltigera (Dog Lichen) - I pluck a  small piece in the dark, expecting it to be P membranacea. (Well it nearly always is, isn't it? - or if in grassland P hymenina). Now I have come home (via the Fish and Chip Shop to remove the taste of the P amara)  to the light I see it has wonderful folioles/isidia   and the undersurface has black raised veins with pale thallus in between. the rhizines are almos simple - So at SD804628 it is 

Peltigera praetextata
Total: 15 lichen species. 

Ah we need to get up to 18 species for the map to "change colour" to yellow 

30 Nov:

I repeat the walk. Extra species:

Lecanora soralifera 
Rhizocarpon geographicum 
Protoblastenia rupestris (on cement)
Aspicilia calcarea (on limestone) 
Aspicilia contorta (on limestone)

Well that get it up to 20... .

1 Dec: At 11.30am and on a bright day though the clouds now covered the sun, I set off again.

Melanelixia fuliginosa
Acarospora fuscata
Caloplaca flavescens on limestone
Verrucaria muralis on mortar on wall at Bypass
Ochrolechia parella 
Lepraria incana 
Ramalina farinosa on an alder? 
Opegrapha scripta - On alder 
Normandina pulchella -On Alder
Lecanora dispersa - in Wall top rock

Up to 30 ! Hmm - my three trips along the lane have gained m e 30 species.

This scrapes me into the next colour band  29-40 is for the next colour change- pale orange  

then 41-55 is dark orange.


Well I have added new species seen at Swaw Beck to the rest of the list for SD8062, and the total is now 50. Which is my highest score for a monad, beating rivals at Huntworth Common and Winskill Stones. (There are 7 monads in the hectad recorded by others with scores over 56.- I have a long way to go)

26 December - Ah a careful reanylisis of my recording sheet shows my total of different species in SD8062 is actuall 54!!

Click here for more  Settle Lockdown Wildflower Walks

Saturday 28 November 2020

SD86 - 14 - SD8164 - Four white crustose lichens on sandstone capstone - Settle Swimming Poll wall

Three mystery mystery lichens and Ochrolechia parella

 Four white lichens on the sandstone walltop: Can you help?

Name                                     K reaction                C reaction   
Lichen1           K   yellow then in 20sec red       C -                no significant prothallus
Lichen2                                    K -                      C  dark orange, then fades
                         (pale yellow green ?soralia)
Lichen3                                    K -                      C   -   
             (thick thallus, lumpy, greenish, striate near edge, fimbriate at edge, pretty ) 
Lichen4=Ochrolechia parella   K  -                    C  discs of apothecia go pink-orange

Same table but with thumbnail pictures

Name                                     K reaction                C reaction   
Lichen1           K   yellow then in 20sec red           C -                no significant prothallus
Top half is Lichen1 Bottom half: Ochrolechia parella

Lichen2                                    K -                     C  dark orange, then fades 

                         (pale yellow green ?soralia) -It is the lichen at the top right:
Applying bleach with my
Rotring Isograph pen to a disc
of Ochrolechia parella. (Lichen 4)
It i the Big lichen with yellow tinge
in the right that is lichen 2 

Lichen3        K -  C   -     (thick thallus, lumpy, greenish, striate near edge, fimbriate at edge, pretty ) 


On the capstones of the wall by the main road at Settle Swimming Pool leading to the bridge over the Ribble,  opposite the entrance to Settle College, are some big patches of Ochrolechia_parella - Crabs-eye lichen.

I set off to photograph it - as an addition to my collection of pictures of "Lichens in well known places around Settle".  

I had just transferred my little bottles of KOH (Alkali) and C (Bleach) into a much smaller container box, making them much more portable, so took them out with me. they worked, but left some big blobs of chemical.  

I returned after two days with newly acquired Rotring Isograph pens filled with alkali and bleach.

Lichens on the wall top - between the green mug on the pavement and the red bag

At the wall I discovered there were THREE other types of whitish crustose lichens on the sandstone capstones, not just Ochrolechia. The moist weather earlier in the day had allowed them to swell and show their subtle colours not obvious when they are dry and white.

Can you help me with them? 

I am getting very much more self disciplined and put the K on the left and the C on the right. 
I appreciate the blobs are FAR bigger than they ought to be, causing the death of those bits of the lichens, especially if the "blob" "runs". I will try and make them smaller next time... you will see I succeed in this as you read through the post

So what white crustose lichen on sandstone causes KOH to trun yellow then immediately red?

Now I know Pertusaria pseudocorallina (on rocks) and Pertusaria coccodes (on trees) - turn yellow then red with KOH but both of these have a thicker thallus and isidia. Someone suggested Phlyctis argena  but I thought that grows on trees.  (Though this wall is under trees)


Picture 1-Top half Lichen1   - K on left, bleach on right       
                        Bottom half: Ochrolechia parella

Picture 2-       Top half Lichen1
Bottom half: Ochrolechia parella
Left spots KOH, right spots C

Below: Just two apothecia of Ochrolechia parella dabbed carefully with my "Bleach" pen.  Close up

Lichen 1 continued.
I was at the bridge over the railway at Stainforth, - capstones again sandstone- and found some more thin white crust that turned red. 

Yes they do look a little snail grazed.   

END OF Lichen 1

Back at Giggleswick Settle Swimming Pool:

LICHEN 2: in the centre, (Lichen 3 - to come -on the right)

Lichen2 has a thicker thallus that is a creamy shade rather than white. 
It went dark orange red with bleach but then quickly faded.

Lichen2- C red, on the left          Lichen3 K- C- on the right
I went back on Thursday 26, with my new pens, and when the (setting) sun was out and had dried up the lichens a little.
I found just two patches of this Lichen 2. Both had a yellow powder film over much of them - easier to photograph with the sun causing slight shadows, rather than the LED ring filter which did not give shadows.

Unfortunately I had filled my alakli pen with NaOH instead of KOH (I couldn't find my KOH pellets) and it should have worked the same . However the dots from the NaOH did actually go a bit red  whereas there had been no reaction with KOH - see below - right blobs C, left tiny blobs NaOH


Below: Applying C to the Ochrolechia using the new Rotring Isograph pen  (But see Lichen 2 at the top right )

Lichen 3   K- C- 
The third lichen did not react with K or C. But it made nice patterns on the wall top.

Lichen 3: no reaction with K or C


Or are you going to say -"They are all too slug eaten to say anything?

Waiting in anticipation.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 96 - Blue 16: purple - Green Field-speedwell, Small Toadflax & Purple Toadflax

Small Toadflax -
 Chaenorhinum minus
25 Sept -
Giggleswick Station

 Two months since I last featured blue.  I have missed several blue species in that time - Maybe I'll "insert" them later.

Today (Sat 21 November) I go back to Giggleswick Station  to see if there is anything left in flower. I find 12 species, two of which are blue and both of which I found two months ago: Green Field-speedwell and Small Toadflax

I will also include a third plant found in Settle - I suspect it is still out in one or two back streets: Purple Toadflax - Linarea purpurea 

Every time I wander near the gate of the adjacent platform of reomte Giggleswick Railway Station a haunting  refined gentleman's voice from the loudspeaker informs me I should be wearing a facemask on the platform.  The platform is deserted, as is the carpark and colonised rough area where I am standing. 

The far end of the rough area which was covered in machinery and some bags of fertiliser a month ago - is now empty again, the surface bulldozed and forming an open habitat ready for colonisation by more species. Thank you Railtrack or whoever.

 1. Green Field-speedwell. Veronica agrestis.

This has the two fruit lobes "Pointing forward" where-as Veronica persica (Common Field-speedwell) (which also has bigger bluer flowers)  and has the lobes diverging.

The leaves of V. agrestis are slightly longer and more "Isosceles triangle" shaped than V. persica. - i.e widest very near the base then gradually tapering.

Green Field-speedwell - Veronica agrestis on 21 November

Green Field-speedwell - Veronica agrestis on 30 Aug

Green Field-speedwell - Veronica agrestis on 30 Aug

2. Small Toadflax  Chaenorhimum minus

Well the plants are still standing. It did look prettier in September I admit.

Small Toadflax - Chaenorhinum minus - 21 November

Small Toadflax - Chaenorhinum minus - 21 November - rather eaten

Small Toadflax - Chaenorhinum minus 25 Sept - Giggleswick Station

Small Toadflax - Chaenorhinum minus 27 Sept 2020 - Giggleswick Station

3. Purple Toadflax - Linarea purpurea 

Purple toadflax - Linarea purpurea - track behind the manse behind  Penyghent View, Church street, Settle - 27 Sept - It was still out last month but I suspect it may be over now.

Other plants in flower on the rough land at the station on 21 November include:

Red Clover


Poa annua

Arrhenatherum elatius 

Holcus mollis

Sow thistle



Sticky Mouse ear

Prickly Sow-thistle

Comfrey sp. 

It is a while since I have put up a Settle Lockdown Wildflower post. 

I have visited St John's Churchyard at Low Bentham (13 miles) with 

and taken permanent plot photographs at Malham Tarn (5 miles) but both are too far away to include as lockdown walks.

My walks to the  LimeKiln and to Little Stainforth, and to the wall next to the Swimming Pool,  have revealed a white crustose lichen that goes yellow then immediately red with KOH.  I am still seeking the correct name for it... then maybe it will feature in a post. 

Click here for more  Settle Lockdown Wildflower Walks

Thursday 12 November 2020

Settle Wildflowers - Day 95 - Green 11 - Five grasses, twenty herbs

Couch, Bearded Couch, Golden Oat-grass, Upright Brome, Cock's-foot

Couch-grass - November

These four grasses found in the second week of November are from very different habitats

Couch, - ruderal - garden weed. disturbed roadside

Bearded Couch, Woodland or woodland edge

Golden Oat-grass, Lime-rich meadow or pasture

Upright Brome: Lime-rich place -but an "incomer" always beside a means of communication - e.g. railway or canal

The plants normally flower in June, but these specimens have flowered late.

Couch, - ruderal - garden weed. disturbed roadside
Elytrigia repens
This was at the roadside over the Bridge into Giggleswick near the Swimming Pool and a the path beside the riverside walk

The flowerhead is a spike and the spikelets lie flat against the stem like hands praying. It has rhizomes (underground shoots) and spreads by rhizomes over big areas. Maybe you know it in your garden?

At the base of the blade are narrow  earlike projections called auricles

2. Bearded couch - Elymus caninus

Further along the Ribble riverside path under the trees you can find Bearded Couch - It is sort of woodland habitat - But I photographed this plant on the path to Stackhouse next to the bridge at Langcliffe Locks

The flowerhead is similar with spikelets arranged like praying hands - but the glumes have a long awn (bristle) - giving it thebearded appearance.

Look you can see the purple anthers oht their filaments, making pollen and the white feathery stigmas - It IS still in flower.

It does NOT have auricles - and see below it grows in discrete tufts

It grows in tufts. It does not have rhizomes to enable it to spread

3. Golden Oat-grass - Trisetum flavescens
This is one of the most delicate of our Oat-grasses - Oat-grasses usually have an awn (bristle) with a bend in it coming of the back of the lemma. This usually has three awns per spikelet

It grows in base rich soils. The leaves are not big, so if the plant is not in flower it is often missed.  Here it is growing in a steep limestone pasture just above Stackhouse  but sheltered near a wall

4. Upright Brome: Bromopsis ramosa
I have only ever found this species in Craven in places where it has "come in". i.e. beside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and here on a track next to the railway, on the track from the Hoffman Kiln back to Langcliffe. Whereas it is abundant on the Downs in the south of England. It has long narrow spikelets and the lemmas have straight awns.
Upright Brome


5. Cock's-foot - Dactylis glomerata - 
I found this in the limestone pasture but it can grow well in neutral pastures and road verges.


In my walk to the hills above Stackhouse and on the track behind my house on 9 November I found the above five gasses in flower plus twenty more species of flower - including Thyme, Heather, Harebell, and Sweet Cicely,  (and Field Scabious on the railwayside track). Two new species that I have still yet to show on the blog are Cerastium glomeratum and  Fairy Flax Linum catharticum.. but they are for showing another day.

I found about five species of waxcap. My favourite waxcap field was a "Deadloss" in that it was tremendously undergrazed - long tussocky grass - and I only found one species of fungus.

For the record, this is written on 12 November - When we are a week into our second lockdown, when we have recorded 50,000 Covid Deaths in the UK.  When Craven is still hovering  each week at 190-210 new cases per 100,000 people (Compared to c 2 or 3 per week in July and August