Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The James Bond lichen

I joined a Flora Group meeting in Portsmouth which was aimed mainly at recording alien escapes but we started off with a scarce native; Slender Hare's-ear Bupleurum tenuissimum. This is an umbellifer but it doesn't look at all like one, at least superficially. According to my records I have seen this species before but I have no recollection of doing so.

Slender Hare's-ear
Next was a species that is normally thought to be introduced, except in west Cornwall; Bermuda-grass Cynodon dactylon. However, expert opinion is that it is also native on the Isle of Wight and that this Portsmouth colony could also be native.

A slight diversion was made to the world of lower plants when we were shown the Golden-eye Lichen Teloschistes chrysophthalmus. This was a mega-rarity, having not been seen in the area for over 100 years but it now appears to be spreading rapidly on the coast of central southern England. It has also been spreading in Brittany. Presumably it has recolonised from the continent but the fact that it has reappeared in the same area that it was known from in the 19th century is interesting, could it have hung on in Britain unnoticed for all that time?

Teloschistes chrysophthalmus
On the same bush was a lichen that I had not seen before; Physcia stellaris. This appears to be quite scarce in southern and eastern England but is fairly common elsewhere.

Physcia stellaris
A brief lesson in bramble identification produced a new species for me in the form of Rubus tuberculatus. One member of the Flora Group is working on a web site for identifying brambles which will hopefully make them more accessible in due course.

We then reverted to looking at alien plants. This provided me with a number of new species such as Grape-vine Vitis vinifera and Chinese Mugwort Artemisia verlotiorum but I cannot say that such ticks give me much satisfaction.

Chinese Mugwort

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