Finds in VC5 – July 2020

Here are a few of the highlights found so far in 2020.

This has to be up there in top spot. This is Orobanche rapum-genistae (Greater Broomrape) found by Richard Brentnall, not a botanist but a relation in Cumbria is and lent him; The Atlas Flora of Somerset by Paul Green, Ian Green and Geraldine Crouch. He noticed in the book a record for Orobanche close to his home in Brushford, went for a walk and found it.

Here it is right by footpath and under gorse.

Close up of Orobanche rapum-genistae

Now the last record for this site, and that’s despite repeated searches, is by the authors of The Atlas of Somerset, mentioned above, from May 1990. What a wonderful record and also thanks to Fred Rumsey for confirming the record.

Not much beats that but I really must repeat Sharon Pilkington’s record of Spergularia bocconei (Greek Sea-spurrey). A wonderful new record for Somerset.

The next record is not a stone’s throw from the Spergularia bocconei, a very large muck heap produced Chenopodium urbicum (Upright Goosefoot, now Oxybasis urbica in Stace 4).

Not a new record for VC5 but the last was in 1940. Thanks this time goes to John Akeroyd the BSBI referee for the genus for confirming it from specimen I sent him.  It’s on the Red list for England as “critically endangered” so should make the Rare Plant Register for Somerset. It’s possibly overlooked so perhaps worth noting a few of the features, complete absence of any red colouration, size and shape of leaf, acute lobes some of which are recurved. Well worth checking the local dung heaps!

Another one perhaps worth looking out for is this Coriandrum sativum (Coriander).

Found growing in gravel between wall and road in south facing position. The fruits are very distinctive.

Coriandrum sativum fruit.                         All for now best wishes  Graham


July 2020 More news in VC5

Last year we had a SRPG meeting on Exmoor at Pinkery. One of the records on the day was a putative Euphrasia anglica x confusa. Now this is a rare hybrid, anglica is a diploid and confusa a tetraploid so hybridisation is infrequent and post 2000 this is only the 21st record for it in the UK on the DDb.

Chris Metherell, the Euphrasia referee, had a large backlog of specimens to determine from 2019 and apologised for the delay and only got round to it in June this year. The Euphrasia handbook (Eyebrights of the UK and Ireland by C Metherell and F J Rumsey) describes it as; a very distinctive plant, short with numerous branches and narrow leaves, it looks exactly like a bushy confusa but with sparse long glandular hairs.

The voucher is awaiting deposition in Taunton Herbarium.

The other Euphrasia from 2019 that might be of interest is a confusa x micrantha from the Porlock area. The Rare Plant Register for Somerset now has micrantha as extinct in VC5 not unreasonably as despite extensive searches the last record remains from pre 2000. This hybrid can be found in calluna habitat much the same as micrantha and its worth looking out for it.

Euphrasia confusa x micrantha

A voucher for this specimen is also waiting to be deposited at Taunton Herbarium.

Lastly and frankly a strange one. In 2017 Mike Wilcox visiting Exmoor recorded Myosotis stolonifera, vouchers were taken and confirmed with the appropriate referee David Welch. Indeed an article written by Mike was published in BSBI News as it was a noteworthy find so far from its northern range. It’s unclear why but Mike has withdrawn the record and had it deleted from the DDb. This may or may not be the end of the story but unless Mike publishes a retraction in a future BSBI News I think it’s worth highlighting this change to the flora of Somerset.

Best wishes