Warrington Plant Group at Houghton Green Pool 2017

Having been here in the winter to investigate its bryophyte flora, we agreed that it would be fun to come back in the summer to see the flowering plants.  It was a wet day, but we were not deterred (much) and duly met up at the pub to see what we could find.  Here is the Pool on our October visit – it was very dried up and about half the size on our May visit despite the recent (and ongoing) rainfall.

We hoped to find some interesting plants on the mud by the waterside, and interesting they were – loads of unidentifiable willowherb seedlings, lots of celery-leaved buttercup, field forget-me-not and quite a few immature crucifers, which we think were mostly Rorippa species although we did find some good wintercress as well.  Here’s celery-leaved buttercup showing its abundance.

We poked around in the grassland and willow scrub around the pool as well and found some interesting orchids which we keyed out as northern x southern marsh hybrid, but which could equally as well be put in the northern marsh box  – we have a lot of hybrid swarms in this part of the world, so I’m not sure there is much “pure” northern marsh orchid around.  It can be difficult to decide where to draw the line.  We spent a while looking at willows, finding sallow, goat willow and osier and a hybrid which I’ve attributed to sallow x osier.  The most interesting willow of the day was found on the motorway bridge on the walk over to the site – this turned out to be bay willow growing in a very strange place indeed.  It usually prefers fens………

Plenty of buttercups on display.  We also re-found the galingale looking completely different from how it had in October.  Here’s a replay, October first, then the following May:

No sign of the glorious and very distinctive fruits, just a lot of old dead leaves and new sedgey leaves coming up.  It would have been very easy to go wrong if we had assumed this was a Carex and started along the Carex key – a good lesson to learn, there’s more to sedges than just the obvious!

We finished the day with a debate about crab apple vs domestic apple, settled by counting the number of leaf teeth (50 each side for domestic, 25 for crab) and by learning the plant part of the day, the extra-floral nectary.  Here it is courtesy of common vetch and our demonstrator Debs:

All together now:  *pirate voice* Yaarrgggh, the black spot!  Yes, the extra-floral nectaries are the dark marks on the stipules, and they are in perfect condition on this specimen.

Do join us for our next outing, click the Warrington Plant Group tab above to find out when that is 🙂

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