It was actually still 2018 when Warrington Plant Group completed our 2019 New Year Plant Hunt, but we wouldn’t let a little detail like that put us off 😉
Five botanists met on 30th December in a pub car park in north Warrington to begin our quest. As always, we started in the car park. You really never can tell what you might find in a car park, there is always something to look at, and often something unexpected, too. Always worth casting your eyes about while you’re putting your boots on and waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. The same rule applies to your lunch stop, except in this case I usually find I have sat on the most interesting species of the day…. !
Having knocked off several flowering species in the car park, including narrow-leaved ragwort Senecio inaequidens (a new tetrad record), we went up the footpath into the arable farmland to see what we might discover among the crop. Points were soon awarded to Rebecca for identifying a plant of turnip within the crop from at least 15 metres away, owing to its distinctive flat-topped inflorescences. We spent a while searching for open florets on cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata only to give up and then more or less instantly find some around the next corner. Always the way!
By a large oak tree we discovered large-flowered hemp-nettle Galeopsis speciosa, a pleasant surprise. This species is something of a local speciality, but is not often seen, with only two previous records for the tetrad this decade. Our plant was somewhat faded, but unmistakable. Definitely a nice plant to see.
We continued our mission along a ditch-side footpath, which proved disappointing, with red campion being the only new addition to our list. Heading into the village of Croft, we were invigorated by a selection of pavement weeds as we made our way into the wild land on the edge of the housing estate. Here, there were few plants in flower and we added only slender rush Juncus tenuis and wood avens Geum urbanum, but we did see lots of interesting fungi, so it was worth a visit.
We arrived back at the pub at 1pm with 34 flowering species under our belts and were more than ready for a roast dinner to celebrate our achievement 🙂
Photos by @garymysnail and @botany_beck on Twitter