A Sunday with the Bradford Botany Group!

18 members of the Bradford Botany Group, on a long weekend visit to the IOW,spent 21st June botanising in St. Lawrence with Dave and Hazel Trevan.Their route took them through Charles Wood to Binnel Bay, along the coast to Woody Bay,the “Cocks Eggs Site(  a private garden), up to Pelham Woods,and then a steep walk along the base of the cliffs to the Field Cowheat site, where they had lunch.The walk then proceeded across the  Shute to the top cliff and High Hat, before descending back into the village.

They succeeded in climbing every rocky outcrop, including the Sugar Loaf to record and see the views!

Andrew Kafel.Chairman of the group,on a rock outcrop

Andrew Kafel.Chairman of the group,on a rock outcrop Photo:Hazel Trevan


A Hawthorn

Yellow-berried Hawthorn © DW

Yellow-berried Hawthorn © DW

In September Daphne Watson reported finding ‘a spectacular yellow-fruited form of hawthorn in a farm hedge in the Rew valley in full fruit at the moment’. and we asked Dr Colin Pope, our Botany Recorder, about it. He replied ‘How interesting! I’ve never come across this before and I’m unaware of any yellow-fruited cultivars. I assume this is Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). If you’re back that way check that the haws have only a single seed (easily done by crushing between your fingers). There is a yellow fruited cultivar of Midland hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha ‘aurea’) which may escape from cultivation or be accidentally included in a planted hedge. Crataegus orientalis has orange-yellow fruits. Hawthorn is very variable in the wild. In the spring you can find bushes with a wide range of flower shades from white to deep pink. It sounds as though a yellow-fruited cultivar is garden-worthy and should be taken into cultivation!

The Isle of Wight Helleborine refound

Isle of Wight Helleborine © CP

Isle of Wight Helleborine © CP

(from the Bulletin, February 2006)

The Isle of Wight Helleborine is an enigmatic orchid. It was so called because, when originally found near Ventnor in 1913, it was thought to be a new species. It doesn’t seem to have been seen again until the 1930’s in Bonchurch Landslip and then in 1951 when Dr Laidlaw’s father found a specimen at St Lawrence. By that time, it was recognised that the plant was not unique to the Island, but found in scattered localities in England, Wales and Ireland. It became known as the Green-flowered Helleborine. The plant persisted at St Lawrence until around 1959, but there have been no further confirmed Island records until now.

During a particularly hot spell of weather in August 2003, a visiting botanist, Peter Jupp, found an unusual Helleborine close to the footpath in Eaglehead Copse, a Wildlife Trust reserve. He thought it could be Narrow-lipped Helleborine. The plant lasted a very short time in the heat but I sent photographs to the referee, Professor Richards at Newcastle University. He considered that it could well be a specimen of Green-flowered Helleborine.

It did not reappear in 2004, but in August 2005 Peter Jupp was on holiday here again and he alerted local botanists to the fact that it had reappeared. Again photographs, together with a single pickled floret, were sent to Professor Richards. He was able to confirm that this was indeed Green-flowered Helleborine and was, moreover the same type which was originally found at Ventnor in 1931, now known as Epipactis phyllanthes var. vectensis.

So, after an absence of 44 years, the Isle of Wight Helleborine has reappeared on the Island. It is a plant which has a habit of appearing and then disappearing, only to reappear years later somewhere else, so we must enjoy this special Island plant whilst we can.

Colin Pope