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Botanical Recording, Mugdale 11th July 2009

led by Gill Smith

[Species lists below] 5 members attended this rather specialised meeting on a fine, sunny day, starting near the City of Troy maze on the Dalby road. Gill explained the rationale behind recording, and showed an old-fashioned recording card which had the plant names not only in Latin but also abbreviated. We all agreed that a very special, dedicated recorder was needed to use this! She then showed the modern equivalent – an A4 recording sheet, in either Latin or English formats, and offered people the chance to fill one in on the day (she also admitted that she didn’t in fact use such a sheet, preferring to enter records into a hand-held computer – and failing that writing the names on a blank sheet to be uploaded to the computer later).

general view

We then started our walk which took in a variety of habitats: arable cropland, hedge-banks, Mugdale wood, and a rather overgrown footpath near Potter Hill Farm. One of the highlights was finding bugloss Anchusa arvensis – one of those arable weeds that is much less common than it used to be. Partly because of the different habitats we recorded over 170 different species – not bad for one afternoon in an area only a mile or so across.

bugloss (Anchusa arvensis)
Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis)

stitchwort and speedwell In the wood we noted plenty of lesser stitchwort, the starry flowers living up to the Latin name of Stellaria. It was disappointing to see quite a bit of Himalayan balsam near the beck, but good that someone had clearly been cutting it in an attempt to control it, though I fear if it is allowed to seed the problem will get worse in future years.

In the wood we saw a fallen trunk with what I think were oyster mushrooms growing on it (see below). The only other fungi I saw were some giant hoof fungi on a dead but still upright birch trunk, that also had many woodpecker holes in it.

probably oyster mushroom Pleurotus ostreatyus on dead log
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a dead log

gall on alder (Eriophyes laevis)

I also noticed a patch of gooseberry that had been completely stripped of leaves (leaving behind a rather nasty black deposit and the berries remaining on the bare twigs): this was probably caused by sawfly larvae. Nematus olfaciens, Nematus leucotrochuss, Nematus ribesii and Pristiphora appendiculata are all known to feed on gooseberry, but without specimens it is impossible to be sure, and we can’t exclude a polyphage, i.e. a species that feeds on several different plants. We also saw these little galls on alder (left), caused by the mite Eriophyes laevis (thanks to Carl Farmer and Stuart Dunlop for these ids).

botanists in the field We went slowly and in true botanical fashion kept stopping to look carefully at the plants we found. It was very helpful to find many closely related plants growing together so we could compare them, for example pineappleweed, scented and scentless mayweeds – see the spread of (mostly) scented mayweed (and poppies) left – and all three small-flowered cranesbills (dovesfoot, cut-leaved and small-flowered).

However, we also had time to spot some birds and butterflies. There were ringlets everywhere and also plenty of meadow browns, plus a few individuals of other species. It was a special thrill to see the comma, which looked freshly emerged with very bright colours, and also the red admiral of which we only got a fleeting glimpse.

Species seen or heard

Robin, willow warbler, skylark, yellow hammer, wood pigeon, peewit, chaffinch, blackbird, pheasant, black cap, garden warbler, jay, carrion crow, curlew, song thrush.
[Thanks to Janet Denney for this list]

Ringlet, large white, tortoiseshell, small white, meadow brown, painted lady, red admiral, orange tip, speckled wood, comma.

... and last, but not least, we heard a grasshopper.
[Again thanks to Janet for the list]


Acer pseudoplatanusSycamore
Achillea millefoliumYarrow
Aegopodium podagrariaGround elder
Agrimonia eupatoriaCommon agrimony
Agrostis giganteaBlack bent
Agrostis stoloniferaWhite or creeping bent
Agrostis capillarisFine or common bent [probably seen]
Alliaria petiolataHedge garlic
Allium ursinumRamsons
Alnus glutinosaAlder
Alopecurus pratensisMeadow foxtail
Anchusa arvensisBugloss
Angelica sylvestrisAngelica
Anisantha sterilis (Bromus sterilis)Barren brome
Anthoxanthum odoratumSweet vernal grass
Anthriscus sylvestrisCow parsley
Aphanes arvensisParsley piert
Arctium minusBurdock
Arenaria serpyllifoliaThyme-leaved sandwort
Arrhenatherum elatiusFalse oat
Arum maculatumCuckoo pint
Avena fatuaWild oat
Bellis perennisDaisy
Betula pendulaSilver birch
Brachypodium sylvaticumSlender false brome
Bromus ramosus (Bromopsis ramosa)Hairy brome
Calystegia sepiumHedge bindweed
Calystegia sylvaticaLarge bindweed
Capsella bursa-pastorisShepherd’s purse
Cardamine flexuosaWavy bittercress
Cardamine pratensisMilkmaid, cuckoo-flower or lady’s smock
Castanea sativaSweet chestnut
Centaurea nigraCommon knapweed (incl. rayed form)
Cerastium fontanumMouse ear, common
Cerastium glomeratumMouse ear, sticky
Chaerophyllum temulemRough chervil
Chrysosplenium oppositifoliumOpposite-leaved golden saxifrage
Circaea lutetianaEnchanter’s nightshade
Cirsium arvenseThistle, creeping
Cirsium vulgareThistle, spear
Conopodium majusPignut
Corylus avellanaHazel
Crataegus monogynaHawthorn
Cruciata laevipesCrosswort
Dactylis glomerataCocksfoot
Dactylorhiza fuchsiiCommon spotted orchid
Deschampsia caespitosaTufted hair grass
Digitalis purpureaFoxglove
Dryopteris affinisGolden-scaled male fern (probably!)
Dryopteris dilatataCommon buckler fern
Dryopteris filix-masMale fern
Elymus caninus = AgropyronBearded couch
Elymus repens (Elytrigia)Couch
Epilobium ciliatumAmerican willowherb
Epilobium hirsutumGreat willowherb (?garden throwout**)
Epilobium montanumBroad-leaved willowherb
Epilobium obscurumShort-fruited willowherb
Epilobium tetragonumSquare-stalked willowherb
Equisetum arvenseField horsetail
Fagus sylvaticaBeech
Festuca giganteaGiant fescue
Festuca rubraRed fescue
Filipendula ulmariaMeadowsweet
Fraxinus excelsiorAsh
Galeopsis tetrahitCommon hemp nettle
Galium aparineCleavers
Galium odoratumWoodruff
Galium verumLady’s bedstraw
Geranium dissectumCut-leaved cranesbill
Geranium molleDovesfoot cranesbill
Geranium pratenseMeadow cranesbill
Geranium pusillumSmall-flowered cranesbill
Geranium robertianumHerb Robert
Glechoma hederaceaGround ivy
Hedera helixIvy
Helictotrichon pubescens (Avenula pubescens)Downy oat
Heracleum sphondyliumHogweed
Holcus lanatusYorkshire Fog
Holcus mollisCreeping Soft Grass
Hyacinthoides non-scriptaBluebell
Ilex aquifoliumHolly
Impatiens glanduliferaHimalayan balsam
Juncus bufoniusToad rush
Juncus effususSoft rush
Lactuca virosaGreat lettuce [?]
Lamium purpureumRed dead nettle
Lapsana communisNipplewort
Larix sp.Larch
Lathyrus pratensisMeadow vetchling
Leontodon hispidusRough hawkbit
Lolium perenneRye Grass, Perennial
Lonicera periclymenumHoneysuckle
Lotus corniculatusCommon birdsfoot trefoil
Lotus pedunculatusGreater birdsfoot trefoil
Lysimachia nemorumYellow pimpernel
Malus sylvestrisCrab apple
Matricaria discoideaPineapple weed
Matricaria recutitaMayweed, scented
Mentha sp.Mint (garden throwout** - rotundifolia or hybrid)
Mercurialis perennisDog’s mercury
Moehringia trinervaThree-nerved sandwort
Myosotis arvensisForgetmenot, field
Odontites vernaRed bartsia
Oxalis acetosellaWood sorrel
Papaver dubiumPoppy, long headed
Papaver rhoeasPoppy, common
Persicaria hydropiperWater pepper
Persicaria maculosaRedshank
Phleum pratenseTimothy
Pinus sylvestrisScots pine
Plantago lanceolataPlantain, ribwort
Plantago majorPlantain, greater
Poa annuaMeadow Grass, Annual
Poa trivialisMeadow Grass, Rough
Polygonum aviculareKnotgrass
Potentilla anserinaSilverweed
Potentilla reptansCreeping cinquefoil
Prunella vulgarisSelf heal
Prunus aviumWild cherry
Prunus spinosaBlackthorn
Pteridium aquilinumBracken
Quercus roburPedunculate oak
Quercus sp.Hybrid oak
Ranunculus acrisButtercup, meadow
Ranunculus repensButtercup, creeping
Raphanus raphanistrumWild radish
Ribes uva-crispaGooseberry
Rosa sp.Rose
Rubus fruticosusBramble
Rubus idaeusRaspberry
Rumex acetosaCommon sorrel
Rumex obtusifoliusBroad-leaved dock
Rumex sanguineusWood dock
Salix capreaGoat willow
Salix sp.Willow (tree with longish leaves but not crack)
Sambucus nigraElder
Scrophularia nodosaCommon figwort
Senecio jacobeaCommon ragwort
Silene dioicaRed campion
Silene latifoliaWhite campion (or hybrid - very pale pink)
Sonchus asperPrickly sowthistle
Sonchus oleraceusSmooth sowthistle
Sorbus aucupariaRowan
Stachys sylvaticaHedge woundwort
Stellaria alsineBog stitchwort
Stellaria gramineaLesser stitchwort
Stellaria holosteaGreater stitchwort
Stellaria mediaChickweed
Tanacetum partheniumFeverfew (garden throwout**)
Taraxacum sp.Dandelion
Torilis japonicaUpright hedge parsley
Trifolium dubiumLesser trefoil
Trifolium hybridum Clover, alsike
Trifolium pratenseClover, red
Trifolium repensClover, white
Triplospermum maritimumMayweed, scentless
Trisetum flavescensYellow oat
Ulex europaeusGorse
Ulmus glabraWych elm
Urtica dioicaNettle, common
Valeriana officinalisCommon valerian
Veronica arvensisWall speedwell
Veronica beccabungaBrooklime
Veronica chamaedrysGermander speedwell
Veronica persicaCommon field speedwell
Viburnum opulusGuelder rose
Vicia craccaVetch, tufted
Vicia hirsutaHairy tare
Vicia sativaVetch, common
Vicia sepiumVetch, bush
Viola arvensisField pansy
Viola rivinianaDog violet

[172spp.] List compiled with “PlantFinder” (but modified).

** These three species were growing together on a mound of soil at the side of the road, suggesting they had all been dumped together. The willowherb is of course common in the area as a true wild plant, but normally prefers damper habitats such as ditch banks.

mayweed and poppies
Mayweed and poppies at the edge of the arable fields

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© Ryedale Natural History Society 2009; Photos © Gill Smith & Nan Sykes 2009