Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter - Spring 2000 - pages 3-4
Compiled by Alex Lockton
First and Second County Records (VC 40)
The only first county record for this newsletter is the less-than-thrilling discovery of Noble Fir, Abies procera Rehder, at Black Rhadley Hill, SO342956, by Kate Thorne on February 3rd 2000 (conf. Sarah Whild). This is a commonly-planted forestry tree which can become established. All of us should perhaps pay more attention to conifers, especially those that do become naturalised.
Angela Darwell, a surveyor for English Nature, found Floating Water-plantain, Luronium natans (L.) Raf. at Brown Moss (SJ562393) again in September 1999. This species disappeared from the site in the early 1990s, and was most definitely absent in the years when the pools dried up completely. However, a combination of wet weather and tree felling has made a considerable difference to the state of the site, and the pools have remained full for the last two summers. It would be wonderful if Sarah could be proven wrong by the reappearance of Lesser Water-plantain, Baldellia ranunculoides (L.) Parl., as well.
Greater Broomrape, Orobanche rapum-genistae Thuill., was found at Poles Coppice, within the boundary of the County Council nature reserve (SJ387045) by Sarah Whild on 5th March 2000. These were, of course, dead spikes from the previous year's flowers. It had previously been known a few hundred metres away on farmland belonging to the Council, but in that location all the broom has been cut back severely, and this nationally scarce species seems to have gone from there. It was a welcome discovery, therefore, to find the nature reserve doing what it is there for.
Long Mynd Records
This time last year we asked people to study the Long Mynd, and especially to attempt to re-find some of the rare species that had been recorded. There was an excellent response, with records from Kate Thorne, John Clayfield, Mark Lawley, and Roger and Pam Green. In total, some 450 records were received. The highlights among them were:-
Few-flowered Spike-rush, Eleocharis quinqueflora (F. Hartmann) O. Schwarz: this turns out to be fairly common on the Mynd, having been collected this year by Roger and Pam and independently by Kate Thorne. Curiously, it had not been recorded before 1976, when Helen Davidson found it. Prior to that the only spike-rush recorded was Many-stalked Spike-rush, E. multicaulis (Smith) Desv., as long ago as 1904. We are still waiting for any confirmation of this latter species - for those who may want to look for it, it was in Lightspout Hollow.
Rock Stonecrop, Sedum forsterianum Smith., nearly eluded us. No sign was seen of it all year, until John Clayfield found it flourishing at its old site in Ashes Hollow. The recent National Trust survey reported it to be present in two other batches at the south end of the hill, but more details would be useful.
Another recent record by the National Trust team, that of Hare's-tail Cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum L., was confirmed by Pam and Roger at Wild Moor. How this species has eluded recorders for so long is a complete mystery, but there it is, definitely, along with a huge amount of the Common Cottongrass, E. angustifolium Honck.
Kate Thorne Spent some time exploring localities for Upright Chickweed, Moenchia erecta (L.) Gaertner, Meyer & Scherb., and found lots of it. Almost every south-facing slope in the batches on the east side of the Long Mynd contains some areas of grassland with this species. In fact, the spring ephemeral community where this species occurs is something of a speciality of Shropshire. It is not described in the national vegetation classification - not one of their samples of vegetation contained Moenchia, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist! It is becoming increasingly clear that this forms a distinct sub-community of the U1 upland grassland type that is unique to Shropshire and the Marches.
Alternate water-milfoil, Myriophyllum alterniflorum DC., is another plant that has turned out to be more common than expected. It is abundant in pools along the streams that feed into Carding Mill Valley (Sarah Whild), and is present in four of the pools at Pole Cottage (Kate Thorne).
Shoreweed, Littorella uniflora (L.) Asch., is confirmed as being present in several locations. We can be almost certain that it was not present on the Long Mynd 100 years ago, but has arrived there and is flourishing at Pole Cottage, Callow Hollow and Thresholds. It is intriguing that it has almost disappeared from our lowland sites during the same period - it was once common in the meres.
Small Cudweed, Filago minima (Smith) Pers., is reported by Mark Lawley to be present in The Batch. This species was last seen on the Long Mynd in 1909 by Augustin Ley and William Moyle Rogers, so it is an interesting rediscovery. There are old records for it in other sites around Church Stretton, so it may be refound in some of those, too.
Some of the water plants are worth investigating further. During a course on aquatics in 1999, Sarah Whild found that Ivy-leaved Crowfoot, Ranunculus hederaceus L., is more frequent at Wild Moor than Round-leaved Crowfoot, R. omiophyllus. Also, the streams contained Stream Water-crowfoot, R. peltatus Schrank, and Common Water-crowfoot, R. aquatilis L., but not Thread-leaved Water-crowfoot, R. trichophyllus Chaix. The latter has been reported in the past.
Finally, we found a numerous new sites for rarities such as Dioecious Sedge, Carex dioica L., Tawny Sedge, C. hostiana DC., and the charophyte Nitella flexilis agg. - probably more of the uncommon Dark Stonewort, Nitella opaca N.F. Stewart.
Kate Thorne found some plants of Marsh Lousewort, Pedicularis palustris L., around Darnford Brook below Wild Moor. This confirms the continued presence of a species that has not been recorded on the Long Mynd since Sinker's Flora.
What the survey work in 1999 did not discover was:-
Grass-of-Parnassus, Parnassia palustris L.
Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Wahlenbergia hederacea (L.) Reichb.
Knotted Pearlwort, Sagina nodosa (L.) Fenzl
Greater Broomrape, Orobanche rapum-genistae Thuill
Wilson's Filmy-fern, Hymenophyllum wilsonii Hook.
The hawkweed Hieracium lasiophyllum Koch
The first three on this list are in danger of being considered errors of identification, but the Greater Broomrape is undoubted, and is surely still there. We have numerous records for it in the batches around Church Stretton - sometimes within the National Trust boundary, but often in the pastures and fields immediately below. This plant is considered nationally scarce, and it would be very welcome if we could confirm that it is still there. It would be very ambitious to hope to rediscover Wilson's Filmy-fern. There is little evidence that there was ever very much of it, but who knows? - it could yet turn up again. Finally, we would hope to have good specimens of any hawkweeds found on the Mynd. They need to be collected at the best possible time - preferably with buds and flowers and fruit.