Botany Group Meetings held in 2004

Stenbury Manor Farm ‘Local Change’ square – 7th August

Stenbury Manor ponds © GT

Stenbury Manor ponds © GT

Following the group’s visit in April of this year, we walked around the same routes as the earlier occasion, to add the plants more conspicuous in the summer to our previous lists. The group on the northern route confirmed a number of arable weeds to be present in a field just off footpath GL 52, including Fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium) and Sharp-leaved Fluellen (Kickxia elatine). The ditch alongside the main trackway to the farm GL 50 also proved to be interesting as it contained all the species of fern we had seen elsewhere.


Bembridge Ledges – 11th September

Looking at marine life on Bembridge Ledges © CP

Looking at marine life on Bembridge Ledges © CP

An enthusiastic group, with a number of members new to botany meetings gathered on the upper ledge at Bembridge for a short introduction to seaweeds. The classification was limited initially to distinguishing between greens, reds, and browns as this decision helps to find the correct part of the identification guide. However this process is not always as straightforward as it might seem, as there are plants that have been bleached from red to green by the sun and other complications to be dealt with! Other useful terminology (like stipe and frond) was also explained before we set off to see what we could find and identify with the help of a simple key. Although at a quick glance, serrated and bladder wracks dominate the middle shore, we managed to identify thirty different seaweeds during the course of the afternoon. The find of the afternoon was a specimen of the brown alga, buttonweed (Himanthalia elongata), The permanent part of the plant looks like a mushroom about 3cm across, on a short stalk. The narrow, strap-like reproductive bodies grow out from this and divide at intervals to produce a branched structure which when held out to its full extent, must have been about 4m across.

Peacock tail seaweed on Bembridge Ledges © CP

Peacock tail seaweed on Bembridge Ledges © CP

The flowering plants were included in our survey when we made brief forays to collect samples of eel grass (Zostera sp) from the lagoons and towards the lower shore and we saw examples of all three species that grow there – Z. marina, Z. angustifolia and Z. noltei.

Fern walk around Mount Joy and Carisbrooke – 25th September

The meeting started off in light drizzle as, led by Bill Shepard, we made our way along Nunnery Lane and across to the top of Mount Joy cemetery. Here we found a number of different ferns that are associated with walls. There were three members of the genus Asplenium to be distinguished – Black Spleenwort (A. adiantum-nigrum). Maidenhair Spleenwort (A. trichomanes) and Wall Rue (A. ruta-muraria), and a further two members of the same family (Aspleniaceae), Rustyback (Ceterach officinarum) and Hart’s-tongue Fern (Phylittis scolopendrium). were seen later that afternoon. As we crossed the recently cut grassland in the cemetery, large brown caterpillars of the Fox moth were spotted and at least eight were seen altogether.

Hart's-tongue fern (Phylittis scolopendrium) © MC

Hart’s-tongue fern (Phylittis scolopendrium) © MC

As the rain became heavier, we walked via the castle moat and the adjoining fields via fruiting Bullace (Prunus domestica ssp insititia) trees to the Shepherd’s trail, which in part is a sunken trackway. Here we were able to identify Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilatata), both three-pinnate, and distinguish between Soft Shield Fern (Polystichum setiferum) and Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), both two-pinnate. Polypody (Polypodium vulgare), which is once pinnate. was the final fern species we saw.

Galls and Leaf miners in Parkhurst Forest – 9th October

A rather dull and cool afternoon did not deter 10 keen pairs of eyes from spotting a large number of galls on various parts of plants, mined leaves and micro-fiungi in the south eastern corner of Parkhurst Forest. Twenty-six new records for Parkhurst Forest, of which three were new records for the Island formed part of our total of 71 species. The new records for the Island were a gall on Goat Willow leaves caused by a fly Rabdophaga nervorum, a gall on Gorse flowers caused by the fly Asphondylia ulicis and a powdery mildew Microsphaera ornata on Downy Birch.

Anne Marston.