Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter 5 - Spring 2001 - page 3
Compiled by Alex Lockton
First County Records (VC 40)
Bryophytes (submitted by Mark Lawley)
Plagiochila spinulosa (Dicks.) Dum., over rock at the Rock of Woolbury, SO314797, M. Lawley, January 2001, 1st v.c. record. This old quarry faces north, and therefore keeps sufficiently moist to suit P. spinulosa, which has a westerly distribution in Britain. The Border Bryologists found it there in 1995, but this is the first confirmed record for the county, according to a strict interpretation of the rules of the BBS, although a specimen collected in the same place by J.B. Duncan in 1913 is in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, and has been confirmed by M.F.V. Coreley. It is also known in Ashes Hollow and in the Wyre Forest.
Saccogyna viticulosa (L.) Dum., over north-facing rock beside a track in Withins Wood, SO327843, M. Lawley, January 2001, 1st v.c. record. The only other localized record for this plant is from the Wyre Forest early in the 20th century (J.B. Duncan), but no voucher is known, so S. viticulosa now for the first time enters our inventory as a fully accredited member of Shropshire's bryoflora. Like the Plagiochila, it likes the damp, so its proclivities are western.
Rhabdoweisia crispata - amongst scree at the northern end of Titterstone Clee Hill (SO 592781), M. Lawley, Sept 2000, 1st v.c. record. J.B. Duncan found this moss on Titterstone a century ago, but there is no voucher in BBSUK. It's good to know the plant is still on the hill.
Racomitrium affine (Schleich. ex Web. & Mohr) Lindb. On rock, Carding Mill Valley SO434951, M. Lawley, Jan 2001, conf. T.L. Blockeel. R. affine is very similar to R. heterostichum, and was formerly much confused with that species.
Although this is the first confirmed record from v.c. 40 since before 1950, R. affine is probably quite frequent on rock in the hills of south Shropshire, and has been recorded recently in numerous localities by Martha Newton, Ron Shoubridge and others. The map in the next column shows the recorded distribution in the county, now that it is properly accepted as a member of the bryoflora.
Anomobryum julaceum (P. Gaertn., B. Mey & Scherb.) Schimp. On a wet bank in Carding Mill Valley, SO433951, M. Lawley, January 2001, growing with Blindia acuta. Both these species are characteristic of montane streambanks. This record is a "de-bracketing." A. julaceum was known at Carding Mill Valley many years ago and has also been recorded in several batches on the Long Mynd as recently as 1994, by Dr M.E. Newton.
Bryum ruderale Crundw. & Ryholm - on soil at Snailbeach, SJ3702, Mark Lawley, Feb 2001, det. D.T. Holyoak. A fairly common ruderal member of the B. erythrocarpum aggregate, no doubt much overlooked, but not previously ratified for VC40. It was also recorded during the BBS meeting in 1992, at Llanymynech Rocks and by the Llangollen Canal near Ellesmere.
Cryphaea heteromalla (Hedw.) D.Mohr was found at Beach Bank, Church Pulverbatch (SJ4302) in Feb 2001 by Kate Thorne. This epiphyte has a westerly distribution in Britain, and although recorded several times recently in Shropshire, Kate's is the first gathering to be retained as a voucher for BBSUK since before 1950.
Kate Thorne has continued to add to our list of conifers in the county, with White Spruce, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss. A single tree is planted by a stream at The Bog on the Stiperstones, SO345978, February 2001 (conf. S.J. Whild).
Dave Buckingham found Tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum L., in dumped topsoil (from the centre of Bishops Castle) in a field at Lower Broughton Farm, SO313905, 5th October 2000. 1st v.c. record.
Joan Fallows collected a specimen of Ligustrum lucidum Aiton f., Asian Privet, on the banks of the Newport Canal at Newport, SJ749197, on November 26th 2000 (det. M.G. Hoare). This was from an established thicket of the species, which was presumably out of a garden originally.
The Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Merrington Green reserve continues to add exotics to the county list, with the discovery of Duck-potato, Sagittaria latifolia Willd., in one of the ponds there in July 2000, by Sarah Whild. It is an ongoing cause for concern that people are still deliberately introducing exotic plants into the wild in the name of conservation, but fortunately few of them pose a serious risk.
Another of Dave Buckingham's interesting finds was Awned Canary-grass, Phalaris paradoxa L., as a contaminant of winter wheat crops at Plan-yn-Grove farm, SJ381373, in 1999 and 2000.
Fig-leaved Goosefoot, Chenopodium ficifolium Smith, is listed in the second edition of Rare Plants of Shropshire as a county rarity. However, records have trickled in steadily over the last few years, and it now has a total of seven current dots on the map, making it no longer rare at all. This is certainly a real increase in the range and abundance of a native species, as the 1962 Atlas shows it to be confined to the east of England. There is no reason to list it as an introduction, however - plants do move around in response to a whole range of environmental factors. The most recent records are by Rob Stokes in August 2000: one plant on disturbed ground at Greyfriars, Shrewsbury, SJ495122; and three large plants on disturbed ground at Chilcott Gardens, Madeley, SJ708046. An up-to-date distribution map is given here.
Wild Liquorice, Astragalus glycyphyllos L., turned up in a new location in 2000, when John Clayfield found it near Dudmaston, SO749911, "several plants on a scrubby bank." It has long been known in this part of the county, but John's new site, which is in a separate tetrad, brings the total number of current localities for the species to six (in five tetrads), so it can no longer be considered rare.
Green Figwort, Scrophularia umbrosa Dumort., is a species which is not quite Nationally Scarce (it had 101 current dots in Scarce Plants, where 100 is the cut-off point) but is certainly of some interest in Shropshire. It appears to have gone from several sites in recent years, and there is some concern for its conservation, especially as this is the centre of its range in Britain.
Last year Kate Thorne found it to be flourishing at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Chelmarsh Reservoir reserve, where the management - which is for the benefit of migrating water fowl - includes clearing out scrapes, maintaining scrub communities, and generally creating secondary habitat of the type that most botanists would frown at. This seems to suit the figwort perfectly, however.
The Hawkweed Hieracium lasiophyllum Koch is known in Shropshire at only two sites - Earl's Hill and Carding Mill Valley. At the latter it was last seen in 1909, so it was an exciting rediscovery when Kate Thorne collected it there in May 2000 (det. D.J. McCosh, SFG), at SO448941.