Eight of the botany group gathered at the top of Appley Steps to start the hunt for native and naturalised plants (not planted in gardens) which were in flower. The definition of ‘in flower’ requires the anthers to be visible. A male Hazel (Corylus avellana) catkin fully open had already been observed and at our feet was a plant of Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) in bloom. We set off along the cliff top and round Rylstone Gardens to find more species, including Greater Periwinkle (Vinca major).
Next we headed down the steps, looking on the cliff face. A flowering Strawberry-tree (Arbutus unedo) was observed through binoculars and nearer the ground, Gorse (Ulex europaeus) Musk Stork’s-bill (Erodium moschatum) and Hawkweed Oxtongue (Picris hieracioides). Along the Esplanade, we investigated the Rock Samphire (Crithmium maritimum) which was visible, but this was in fruit rather than in flower, so didn’t count. Mexican Fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus) was well out behind some of the huts. We continued along to the steps near the cliff lift and added Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) to our list.
Once back on the cliff top, we found flowering Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and Cat’s-ear Hypochaeris radicata), among others. We cut through Tower Gardens back to the High Street. A number of plants caused some debate here, as to whether they had been planted; part way down a wall was considered to be naturalised rather than planted, so Sweet Alison (Lobularia maritima) and Sudera cordata were added.
Crossing the main road we made our way along Pomona Road, adding Trailing Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) and Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) to our list. We returned along the edge of Big Meade to St Blasius’s Church, thinking we had now seen everything likely to be flowering, but the last plant of the afternoon was Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia) on the grassy verge by the road to Ventnor. We dispersed homewards with the backdrop of a fine sunset, and a list of 52 plants in flower.
These have now been added to the BSBI website and at the time of writing, the Wight Botanists are twelfth equal (out of 327 lists submitted) in terms of the number of plants in flower seen on any one expedition.
Follow these links for an up-to-date report