First County Records for 2001

Shropshire Botanical Society Newsletter 6 - Spring 2002 - page 4-5



The rarest plant found this year was the Red Data Book species Smooth Rupturewort, Herniaria glabra L. This species is considered a native of East Anglia and Lincolnshire, where it grows on disturbed, compacted soils in gravel pits, car parks, golf courses and along rides in forestry plantations. It is one of the success stories of recent years, having spread right across the country, as the maps in the forthcoming Atlas of the Flora of Britain and Ireland will doubtless show. Rob Stokes found it in a typical habitat, in the car park by the Montgomery Canal at Queen's Head, SJ33882681, at the start of the Botanical Society's meeting there on 14th July 2001 (Herb. SFG). About twelve plants were present, with a revealing selection of associates, including Sweet Alison, Lobularia maritima, the Lady's-mantle Alchemilla mollis, Procumbent Yellow-sorrel, Oxalis corniculata, Lamb's-ear, Stachys byzantina and Garden Lobelia, Lobelia erinus.



Specimen of Herniaria glabra

Specimen of Herniaria glabra

Rob also found Stinking Tutsan, Hypericum hircinum L., at The Moors, Ellesmere, in a patch of scrub by the entrance to the Oteley Estate, SJ410342 (conf. S.J. Whild, Herb. SFG).

Finally, Rob Stokes also spotted Garden Speedwell, Veronica longifolia L., on the cliff below Bridgnorth Castle, SO717927, on August 1st. This species, which is commonly grown in gardens, has not previously been recorded as naturalised in the county.

The hybrid sedge Carex x elytroides Fr., C. acuta L., Slender Tufted-sedge, x C. nigra (L.) Reichard, Common Sedge, was found by Kate Thorne on a farm near Edgerley, SJ348181, in August 2001. A specimen has been confirmed by Clive Jermy and is in Hb. SFG. It was growing in an inundation community not far from the River Severn, in an area that is flooded each winter. C. acuta is a particularly interesting plant in Shropshire, having been recorded in the past around several meres, but it does not seem to grow there now - we can only find it along the Severn. Possibly the old records are all errors.

Another invader is Reflexed Saltmarsh-grass, Puccinellia distans (Jacq.) Parl., which was found by John Mason on the side of the A5 at Overley Hill (SJ610104) on 2nd July 2001 (Herb. SFG). This has followed the now well-established Cochlearia danica along the salt-treated trunk roads, and had already spread for miles by summer. Collecting specimens is a hazardous process, however, so it will probably remain under-recorded. This is not quite a first county record, as it has been recorded twice in the past: Isaac Watkin, in his History of the Parish of Llanyblodwell, ca. 1900, gave Sclerochloa distans as one of the species on the farm at Blodwel Hall (SJ22), and Lloyd & Rutter, in their Handlist of the Shropshire Flora, 1957, say that there is "one old record, from Shrewsbury;" but they are probably both errors.

Lesser Hairy-brome, Bromopsis benekenii (Lange) Holub, is an altogether more native species of the county. There is an old record for it on the Wenlock Edge by Augustin Ley, in 1909, and another tentative record by Charles Sinker in 1963, possibly in the same place, at Harton Hollow, SO482878. It was with some surprise that Sarah Whild found it again at Harton Hollow on 23rd June 2001, in some abundance. A specimen sent to Clive Stace for confirmation is in the herbarium at the University of Leicester (LTR).

It is quite similar in appearance to Hairy Brome, Bromopsis ramosa (Hudson) Holub, but smaller, being about the same size as False-brome, Brachypodium sylvaticum (Hudson) P. Beauv. The three tend to grow together. Once you are aware of the differences, they do appear to be quite distinct, but the diagnostic characters are not completely exclusive: B. benekenii tends to have three lower spikelets each with just one or two flowers, whereas B. ramosa has two spikelets with more flowers; the hairiness of the leaf sheaths is also a character, but is not always consistent. Some authorities consider B. benekenii to be merely a subspecies, and the taxonomy is under review.

Natasha Coombs found Arum italicum ssp. italicum, Italian Lords-and-Ladies, in a hedgerow at Radbrook, Shrewsbury, SJ481116, det. S.J. Whild, on 31st March 2001. This appears to be a first county record for what is probably a common garden escape.


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