News for 2005

BSBI / Hampshire Flora Group Annual Botanists' Exhibition Meeting and Get-together

Saturday 19 November 2005, Testwood Lakes Centre, Totton

Between 30 and 40 local botanists turned out for this event, and we took over an extra room this year for showing slides and computer displays. We couldn't quite match Robin Walls' coup of the previous year (specimens of a new native sedge, Carex salina) but there was still plenty of interest. Ian Ralphs had material from a new Hampshire site for the nationally rare and vulnerable Foxtail Stonewort (Lamprothamnium papulosum). John Poland set up a tableful of 'teasers' designed to test our ability to recognise non-flowering plants, and demonstrating useful diagnostic features not usually found in the identification guides. There were plenty of specimens to browse from groups obscure and not so obscure, and wall displays on the progress of the Rare Plant Register project and on the upcoming BSBI 'Hybrids' project.

Thanks to all who helped, especially those behind the scenes working on the accommodation and catering.

Yellow Ivy Broomrape continues its spread

Orobhed (113K)

©John Goodspeed 2005

Yellow Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae forma monochroma) is well known since 1979 as a denizen of gardens and verges in Winchester and Alresford, where it parasitizes the cultivar 'Hibernica' of Ivy.

This year it was spotted by Val Henry at a new site in Portchester, on a recently planted shrubbery verge at the back of new housing. To my knowledge this is the first site where it has been seen to grow on native Ivy.

Another new record came from Compton, where it was spotted by David Ball at the end of Place Lane. Here also it was growing on native Ivy, Hedera helix subsp. helix.

It has done well in its usual haunts this year, too. It has been seen in Alresford, and outside the Record Office in Winchester there were 300 flowering spikes when I visited at the end of June; while Andy Barker of Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre found it at a new spot within the grounds of Winchester Prison.

Martin Rand, BSBI Recorder (South Hants)

Italian Catchfly (Silene italica) thriving in its second year of fame

Only one site in Britain has an established colony of Italian Catchfly (Silene italica), which is a native of continental Europe. If the powers that be are kind to it, Hampshire might provide a second.

Local botanists John Norton and Debbie Allan discovered a colony in rough grassland by a creek in Gosport in 2004, when it was in seed. This year it is thriving and flowering well, with a scattering of individual plants away from the main patch.

Gosport is a haven for unusual plants from further south in Europe. Perhaps its sunny climate, sheltered behind the Isle of Wight, makes it a hotspot.

Martin Rand, BSBI Recorder (South Hants)

Silenita1 (91K)

©Martin Rand 2005

Yellow Figwort (Scrophularia vernalis) in Hampshire: "Reports of extinction grossly exaggerated"

Scropver2 (41K)

©Martin Rand 2005

Yellow Figwort (Scrophularia vernalis) is a plant of central and southern Europe, first recorded in the wild in Britain in 1633; since then it has spread widely, but except in a few areas like central Scotland it has remained rather rare. The 1996 Flora of Hampshire gave a couple of old sites but listed it as extinct in the county, the last record apparently being in 1969.

On 4th May, Hampshire botanist Geoffrey Field visited one of its old sites at East Tytherley churchyard. Here, tucked away by the wheelbarrows and grass cuttings, he found three flourishing plants, one of which appears alongside.

On 11th May, I went to East Tytherley to pay my respects, and mentioned the plants to the lady tending the churchyard. She was suitably impressed by the rarity in her charge (or at least gave a very polite impression), but said "I think you ought to take a look round the corner - there's a lot more round there."

And so there is - west of the churchyard, in the hedge by the path to Lockerley, there were another 60-70 plants in flower, mostly by a crumbling shallow brick wall marking out the adjoining paddock. Was this once a garden? It has earthworks that suggest a shallow terrace and parterre. In any case, it nicely demonstrates that, unless a site has been completely destroyed or altered, it's unwise ever to write off a plant as extinct too soon!

Martin Rand, BSBI Recorder (South Hants)