New Records

Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter - Autumn 1999 - pages 3-4

Compiled by Alex Lockton


First and Second County Records (VC 40)

Pat Parker reports that Garden Orache, Atriplex hortensis L., was established along Weston Wharf Lane, SJ422258, this year - the first record for this apparently common garden plant in the wild in this county.

On May 15th this year Sarah Whild found the rare subspecies of Prickly Sedge, Carex muricata L., ssp. muricata at Jones's Rough nature reserve on Moelydd Hill (SJ247247). This plant is considered "critically endangered" in Britain, having been found in only 6 other locations ever, and being extinct or almost extinct in most of those. There is apparently only one other place where a sizeable population (i.e. more than a dozen or so plants) still occurs. The identification was confirmed in June by David Pearman, Arthur Chater and Clive Jermy (who insist on having each other's opinions for this difficult group!).

At Jones's Rough C. muricata grows on the slope above the place where Red Hemp-nettle, Galeopsis angustifolia, occurs. Other associates include Helianthemum nummularium, Briza media, Thymus polytrichus and Festuca ovina, growing on the natural exposure of Carboniferous Limestone scree. The total population is several hundred plants, but no precise count was attempted. Next year we must define the extent more accurately, so that any change in the total population can be detected. It would also be useful to scour the rest of Moelydd Hill for this species, as the commoner subspecies (ssp. lamprocarpa) has been recorded there recently, but it is not normally found on limestone so we suspect a misidentification.

The Shropshire Wildlife Trust owns Jones's Rough, and it is likely that their activities of removing scrub from the scree over the last few years has provided ideal conditions for the sedge to flourish. If anyone would like to see it, there is open access, but you have to walk up to the reserve along public footpaths from Nantmawr village. Please do not pick plants or even collect seed without permission from Francesca Griffith, the reserves manager, but you're very welcome to walk around a bit: the disturbance will probably do it some good. Let us see if we can't succeed where others have failed, and manage to conserve this precious plant in its natural state…

For several years now we have been waiting for some more salt-tolerant roadside casuals to crop up in Shropshire, knowing they have colonised motorways and trunk-roads in neighbouring counties. One of these is Common Scurvygrass, Cochlearia officinalis L., a larger relative of Danish Scurvygrass, C. danica L., which is now widespread and well established in the county. This year it turned up at Bayston Hill, SJ4809, along the Shrewsbury bypass near Emstrey, SJ5010 on April 11th, and along the A5 near Wellington, SJ6210, on April 24th. 1st, 2nd & 3rd county records by S.J. Whild, herb. Shrops. Bot. Soc.

During the field trip to the Wildlife Trust's Coed-detton reserve this year we found one of the conifers planted there to be Cryptomeria japonica (L.f.) D. Don., Japanese Red-cedar. It is a curious tree, with downswept branches and a distinctive geometric needle shape, and it does not appear to have been recorded in the county before. It is well established in the wood, with seedlings and saplings established far beyond the edges of the plantation. It was recorded here, SO2973, by members of the Botanical Society (det. S.J. Whild) on June 5th 1999, herb. Shrops. Bot. Soc.

That this plant has never been recorded in the county is truly remarkable, but we can find no mention of it in the Flora or elsewhere by any of its names. The plant in question is Russian Vine, Fallopia baldschuanica (Regel) Holub, a.k.a. Polygonum or Bilderdykia aubertii. It was found growing in an abandoned quarry at Treflach 21st August 1999 by S.J. Whild, well established and smothering everything in its path, as it tends to do.

Meadow-foam, Limnanthes douglasii R. Br., is a commonly cultivated garden plant introduced from California, which - according to Stace's Flora - occasionally naturalises for brief periods in this country. John Bingham clocked the first county record on June 25th with two clumps in flower at Clee Hill, SO592755.

In 1897 Rev. William Hunt Painter collected the stonewort Nitella fragilis at Wildmoor Pool, but it has never been seen there since. So, after the National Trust dredged out the margins last year, we decided to have another look, and were delighted to find numerous small clumps of what turned out to be Dark Stonewort, Nitella opaca N.F. Stewart. This plant is thought to have been found by G.C. Druce at Bomere Pool in about 1880, but that record has never been confirmed; apart from that, this is a first: SO424966, 5th April 1999, A.J. Lockton and S.J. Whild, det. N.F. Stewart, herb. Shrops. Bot. Soc.

Kate Thorne has added another rose hybrid to the county list with Rosa caesia Sm. ssp. vosagiaca x R. tomentosa Sm., near Norbury, SO373938, 6th September 1999, det. A.L. Primavesi.

Finally, Pat Parker has found Dense-flowered Mullein, Verbascum densiflorum Bertol., established on a roadside verge in Westoncommon (SJ426264) for the last two years.


Rare Plants

John Bingham found a new site for Soft-leaved Sedge, Carex montana L., at Catherton Common, SO6177, on 24th June 1999. Previously, this species has been known only in the Wyre Forest, where it was first collected in 1876. This find adds a new 10km square to the map of this nationally scarce species, and the number of tetrads in Shropshire is now 6, which means that it is no longer considered rare in the county.

Jane Ing found Yellow Bartsia, Parentucellia viscosa (L.) Caruel, at Rednal Moss, SJ3427, this year. The location is not far from the spot where Caroline Tandy found it along the Montgomery Canal last year. This is only the third record for the county. It is not quite a Nationally Scarce plant (101 squares in Britain) but its apparent scarcity is the result of the majority of recent records being disregarded as "introductions." However, it seems pretty clearly to be spreading northwards by normal, natural processes, and its recorded sites in the county seem to be typical of its habitat elsewhere. It is a southern plant, typically from the Mediterranean region, and is described in Scarce Plants as being "bounded roughly by the 5 ºC mean January isotherm," so the recent warm winters may well have favoured it.

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