Thursday 15 April 2021

Settle Wildflowers - Day 107 - Sycamore tree bud break is always 16 April

 Sycamore trees make up the bulk of the trees around Settle.

Horse Chestnut trees and Elder trees come into leaf earlier, but Horse Chestnut trees are not common and Elder trees are small. 

Ash and Oak are always very late to come into leaf, regardless of whether we have a "splash" or a "soak".

The past three weeks I have been watching the buds on the sycamore trees as usual. We had hot weather three weeks ago.. and I did wonder if the tree leaves might come out too early as a branch on a sycamore tree by the road that always produces leaves early did produce a few leaves..

But then I was happy to see the frost and snow last week.. that would hold the buds from breaking until the 16th.

Excursion to Ripon

Even visiting Ripon on 15th April, (which at 34-39 m above sea level is usually ahead of Langcliffe 223m and Malham Tarn 377m) the buds have not quite broken. The sunny weather over the past two days has not made up for the frost at night. Frost is again forecast tonight (-1 Langcliffe, -2 Ripon).

Perhaps I will find that this year that the buds  DON'T open on the 16th.

On 15th in Ripon, on the banks of the River Skell, at the Rustic Bridge/ Fairy Steps, the Wood Anemones are fully out and just showing signs of wear.  The Bluebells are not out - well just the odd one or two.

Wild Garlic which was just in bud two days ago now has a few flowers out

The violets seem to be mostly Viola reichenbechiana - at least the have blue spurs to the flower, not white and notched  as in riviniana.

I will post this now, and add pictures later.


I have just been watching a zoom presentation by the YNU on Lindholme and Hatfield Moor - These lie 10 miles south of the Ouse.  

The river Skell (which starts 2 miles west of the River Nidd near Pateley Bridge) flows is joined by the river Laver at the west of Ripon and flows into the River Ure which when joined by the river Swale then becomes the Ouse (near York).

I bought some lamb burgers from Ripon Market today that came form Skell Gill Farm, near the source of the Skell. I had one for supper. It was delicious.

I will add pictures of the trees another day.


Sunday 4 April 2021

SD86 - 17 - SD8167- Lecanora rupicola - Stainforth NW - Big white lichen - on exposed faces on ACID ROCK


Craven is blessed with many rock types. Hence - many different lichens.

The cat on the right is admiring the Lecanora rupicola on a slate gravestone at Horton in Ribblesdale.

This post deals with a walk near Stainforth to look at Lecanora rupicola - with digressions to Horton in Ribblesdale and the Coast of Anglesey

Landmark lichen 1 - was Aspicilia calcarea forming big white patches on limestone wall tops.

Today we are going to look at another big white lichen - this time on vertical faces on ACID ROCK - e.g above Stainforth 

( It also occurs at local beauty spots I have visited outside out side our hectad - e.g. Horton in Ribblesdale Churchyard, Low Bentham Churchyard, and especially on some Scottish  and Welsh Coastal sites where it is a dominant lichen).

Acid rocks can have OTHER BIG WHITE LICHENS as I mention at the end of the post.  But let's do Lecanora rupicola first

Landmark Lichen 4: Lecanora rupicola

This striking big white lichen grows on acid rocks:, especially vertical acid rocks.. but not just any acid rock. It seems to do well on selected slates and greywackes on the very old rocks that appear at the surface of our world  above Stainforth and Horton in Ribblesdale (Ordovician and Silurian).

Wall just north of Stainforth -See Stainforth church to the right

I went back on a sunnier day on 1 April to try and get a brighter picture

The lambs in the field were enjoying the warm afternoon

Some of the most striking patches are at Horton in Ribblesdale churchyard, three miles to the north

Horton in Ribblesdale Churchyard

The map shows it  grows especially well beside the coast.

I have also seen it on rocks on walls on romantic western coast headlands in Scotland where there is much more of this ancient rock'


  1. Forms big white patches

  2. The thallus is thick

  3. When thalli grow next to each other there is a noticeable line where they meet (giving a map effect a bit like Rhizocarpon geographicum.)

  4. The thallus can be divided into areoles with wiggly edges. But sometimes areoles don't form.

  5. The thallus stains yellow with KOH

  6. If it has apothecia. They can be big (1-2mm) with a cream-pinkish disk and a white border. 

  7. The disks can also be dark and have a crinkly border

  8. They can also be immersed.


  9. The apothecia can often be infected with a parasitic lichen called Arthonia radians. This is dark grey/black and can make the whole apothecia look black.

  10. If infected the apothecia can be sunken and several per areole - and then it looks like Aspicilia calcarea - But you would rarely mix them up because they grow on different rock types.

Lecanora rupicola at Horton Churchyard

Lecanora rupicola stains yellow with KOH

Here the discs are pink

Two thalli meet.
Here some discs are pink and some are black. the black ones may be infected. Well even some of the pink ones look a bit infected.

Some pictures from the coast of Wales:-
Lecanora rupicola on ancient acid rock on
Holy Island, Anglesey. on a BLS field trip

Below: more rocks by the coast on another day of the trip

Back to Stainforth.

I carried on north to the next field, to the field north of Rains Barn
where there is a stream running down the hillside (when it is wet) and cutting through these ancient acid rocks.

Here I  found some other lichens: 
Such as a favourite of mine Xanthoparmelia conspersa
with the view looking back to Stainforth

A little higher was this rock with the same view looking back to Stainforth Church. Close examination of the "Big White Patches" revealed that some were not so white.

In fact the patches were yellowish - a good candidate for Lecanora sulphurea 

Higher up I found some more white patches. A completely different species. But I'll describe it in another post.

Just note the zoned effect at the margin (like an oyster..) above  
and a close up below show lumps which turn into white soralia,
and the reaction with K (at abut 11pm) was negative and the reaction with C (centre and 6pm) was shocking pink.  - Or if you can guess put your suggestion in the comments.

Some "Daddy " sheep came to see what I was doing.  
(Tups- "Leicesters of some sort?")
 Time to return home.

Saturday 3 April 2021

Settle Wildflowers - Day 106 - Goat Willow, Larch, Sloe

 Three more tree flowers - each flowering now and each with a Settle story to tell

Part of "Wildflowers on Exercise Walks around Settle 2020-2021" --

Goat Willow


1.  Pussy Willow or Goat Willow.  Salix caprea

Broad leaves distinguishes this from most other common willows in the UK and the leaves are "woolly" underneath. It is one of the willows  where the flowers come out before the leaves. This willow will grow in dry places whereas most other willows prefer wet places. It is used in flower decorations at Easter.

There are male and female plants - the tree in this picture has anthers so is male.

I took this picture on 28 March 2021. But I took a picture of the same tree three months earlier on 20 December, on 25 December  and counted it as a plant in flower for the New Year Plant Hunt... even though the anthers weren't showing then.

28 March 2

20 December 2020 - same tree- maybe same branch

8 April 2020 Main Road just past Stainforth

2. Larch
I just love the pink flowers of Larch flowers - Do go out and look for them now. 

3. Sloe - or Blackthorn - Prunus spinosus 

This picture was taken on 14 April 2014 from the top of Castleberg.

Unfortunately the Sloe bushes were chopped down in late 2020 - which improved the view, and makes it easier for climbers - but they did provide a very useful safety barrier above the vertical drop below.
Here are two more pictures from 2000
23 April 2000 - Castleberg summit
Jim Nelson (centre) Rev Tony Dent (left) Castleberg summit 24 April 2000

I expert the shoots will grow again. Also I much appreciate some of the scrub removal on Castleberg - much removal of sycamore and some of other crees is needed to give the flowers underneath a chance.

Here is a picture of a member of Carven Conservation Group at a totally different site (Bank Newton Meadow) removing a slue sucker.. The sloe spreads a long way.