A slag heap in Lancashire (2016)

Appetising, no ?!  Don’t I get to go to some nice places in this job……

Actually, slag heaps are pretty interesting places if you’re a botanist, often with interesting chemistry quite different from their surroundings – maybe alkaline in an acid area, or with metal contamination, and they always seem to have some ecological oddity.

2016-07-21 12.02.24 (450x800)This particular slag heap originated at an iron and steel works in a limestone area, so has metal-rich areas which support open mosaic habitat and herb rich calcareous grassland.  The site is hiving with invertebrates and is known to support some interesting species.

I found some wacky plants I’d never seen before, like whorled clary, looking like a giant hedge woundwort on an open area next to the railway line.  And in the middle of some herb rich grassland, a single plant of shrubby cinquefoil.  How odd.  Most of the site has dense scrub and broadleaved woodland covering it now, but nothing that a bit of management couldn’t sort out.

I had a really interesting time doing my Phase 1 habitat survey at this site and happily none of the interesting bits will be affected by the proposed scheme.  A win-win situation.


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