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Fly Orchid

Pry Rigg May 23rd 2000

[Species lists are given below]

About a dozen members joined the trip to Pry Rigg, a very good turn-out considering the unkind weather: it was wet and cold, but we had a good day, led by Don Buckle and Gordon Simpson, with Jim Pewtress and Nan Sykes on hand to identify the birds and plants respectively. The area is forested, with a mixture of coniferous and broadleaved trees, but there are also clearings with a meadowland flora, and an old quarry which proved particularly rich. The area is mostly on limestone, although there was one slope which was on more acid soil, and the difference in the ground flora was striking, being dominated by ferns rather than herbs such as bluebells and/or wild garlic and dog’s mercury.

Don explained how over the years some of the trees have been felled and the resulting clearings managed for conservation, In one particular case a single specimen of herb paris appeared, and has now multiplied to cover an area several yards across. This unusual plant (left) Herb Paris was in full flower, and it was heartening to see it thriving here. Similarly the area around the old quarry has a wonderful colony of fly orchids (picture above, right), and later in the summer pyramidal orchids also flower there; and we saw several patches of lily-of-the-valley, one of which was flowering splendidly (detail, right). Lily-of-the-Valley

Don also showed us the site where Bird’s nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) was found flowering last year – now there was nothing to be seen except bare earth in deep shade under conifers. This curious plant has no chlorophyll, growing with the aid of a fungus feeding off dead wood. Apparently it favours hazel or beech, which is curious as neither was growing nearby. It is hoped that another flower-spike will appear this year.

There were very few insects about, although we did see a small weevil on Figwort; also there were few birds about, no doubt because of the weather. We saw various fungi, including rust fungi on bramble, dog’s mercury and creeping thistle plants; and some unusual small galls on birch leaves.

We recorded the following:


We saw or heard:
Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Jay, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Robin, Chiff Chaff, Willow Warbler.

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The list below is split into those plants seen in bud or flower, those where only leaves were seen, non-flowering plants (ferns, mosses and liverworts), fungi, grasses and sedges and trees. It is not a complete list of all the plants seen, for instance I did not list all the common species present. I have not listed all the grasses or sedges but have included the easily recognised ones. Nor have I listed trees in any detail. We saw one horsetail (Equisetum sp.), probably marsh horsetail ((Equisetum palustris).

Plants in Flower

Fly Orchid (detail)
There were over 50 plants in bloom, mostly the species you would expect to see in woodland on neutral or limy soil (e.g. the fly orchid left), with a few preferring more acid conditions, such as the lemon-scented fern and bilberry, and several “weeds” such as the mouse-ear or wintercress, both of which were growing on the side of a forestry track.

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English NameLatin Name
BilberryVaccinium myrtillus
Bird’s-foot TrefoilLotus corniculata
Black MedickMedicago lupulina
Bluebell (incl. white variety)Hyacinthoides non-scripta
BrooklimeVeronica beccabunga
Bugle (incl. pink variety)Ajuga reptans
Bush VetchVicia sepium
Common Mouse-earCerastium fontanum
Common WintercressBarbarea vulgaris
CowslipPrimula veris
Creeping ButtercupRanunculus repens
CrosswortGalium cruciata
DaisyBellis perennis
DandelionTaraxacum sp.
Dog’s MercuryMercurialis perennis
Dog VioletViola riviniana
Early Purple OrchidOrchis mascula
Fly OrchidOphrys insectifera
Fly OrchidOphrys insectifera
Golden SaxifrageChrysosplenium oppositifolium
Gorse or WhinUlex europaeus
Great StitchwortStellaria holostea
Hairy WoodrushLuzula pilosa
Herb ParisParis quadrifolia
Herb RobertGeranium robertianum
Lady’s MantleAlchemilla sp. (probably xanthochlora)
Lily of the ValleyConvallaria majalis
Lords and LadiesArum maculatum
Meadow ButtercupRanunculus acris
Mouse Ear HawkweedHieracium pilosella
Oxlip (false)Primula vulgaris×veris
PignutConopodium majus
PrimrosePrimula vulgaris
Ransoms or Wild GarlicAllium ursinum
Ribwort PlantainPlantago lanceolata
Salad BurnetSanguisorba minor
SanicleSanicula europaea
SilverweedPotentilla anserina
Thyme-leaved SandwortArenaria serpyllifolia
Thyme-leaved SpeedwellVeronica serpyllifolia
TormentilPotentilla erecta
TwaybladeListera ovata
Water AvensGeum rivale
Wavy BittercressCardamine flexuosa
White DeadnettleLamium album
Wild StrawberryFragaria vesca
Wood AnemoneAnemone nemorosa
Wood AvensGeum urbanum
Wood ForgetmenotMyosotis sylvatica
WoodruffGalium odoratum
Wood SorrelOxalis acetosella
Wood SpeedwellVeronica montana
Yellow PimpernelLysimachia nemorum

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Plants (leaf only)

There were a further 33 plants we recorded by their leaves, mostly summer flowers which are still to bloom. It was interesting to see the three commonest species of thistle growing more or less together so we could compare the leaves and habit of growth.

English NameLatin Name
Plants in leaf
AgrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria
Barren StrawberryPotentilla sterilis
BrambleRubus sp.
Broad-leaved DockRumex obtusifolius
Broad-leaved WillowherbEpilobium montanum
BurdockArctium sp.
Creeping cinquefoilPotentilla reptans
Creeping ThistleCirsium arvense
DewberryRubus caesius
Dog RoseRosa canina
Downy RoseRosa mollis agg.
Enchanter’s NightshadeCircaea lutetiana
Fairy FlaxLinum catharticum
FigwortScrophularia nodosa
Goosegrass or CleaversGalium aparine
Hairy St. John’s WortHypericum hirsutum
Hairy VioletViola hirta
Hedge WoundwortStachys sylvatica
HogweedHeracleum sphondylium
HoneysuckleLonicera periclymenum
Knapweed, commonCentaurea nigra
MarjoramOriganum vulgare
Marsh ThistleCirsium palustre
MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria
NettleUrtica dioica
RagwortSenecio jacobea
RaspberryRubus idaeus
Rosebay Willow HerbChamaenerion angustifolium
RushJuncus, probalby effusus
Spear ThistleCirsium vulgare
Wild AngelicaAngelica sylvestris
Wood SageTeucrium scorodonia
Yarrow or MilfoilAchillea millefolium

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We did not see many fungi, but there were some interesting ones, including rust fungi on different plants, for instance creeping thistle. This particular fungus goes through several stages in its life-cycle, one of which produced an orangey powder and a strong smell which some members thought was like honey and pleasant, and others found strong and unpleasant!

English NameLatin Name
[Fungus]Callocera pallidospathulata
[Fungus]Lycogala epidendron
[Fungus]Phragmitum (?) on Bramble
[Fungus]Stereum hirsutum
Birch Bracket FungusPiptoporus betulinus

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Ferns, Mosses and Liverworts

Ferns, mosses and liverworts form a related group of “primitive” plants that reproduce with spores rather than flowers and seeds. There were plenty of ferns in the wood, but they were mostly male fern or common buckler fern, with a good number of hard ferns along the path-sides. We found a couple of lady ferns and a few lemon-scented ferns, the latter indicating relatively acid soil conditions. Some of the mosses were identified, and we saw two liverworts as well, growing in amongst the moss

English NameLatin Name
BrackenPteridium aquilinum
Common Buckler FernDryopteris dilatata
Hard FernBlechnum spicant
Lady FernAthyrium fillix-femina
Lemon-scented FernOreopteris limbosperma
Male FernDryopteris filix-mas
Mosses and Liverworts
[Liverwort]Lophocola bidentata
[Liverwort]Plagiochila porelloides
[Moss]Mnium hornum
[Moss]Polytrichum sp.
[Moss]Rhytidiodelphis squarrosus
[Moss]Rhytidiodelphis triquetris
[Moss]Thuidium tamariscinum

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Grasses and Sedges

We only saw three different sedges (and the Carex nigra may have been mis-identified). There were several different grasses, but many of them were not yet in flower, so were impossible to identify; the ones we managed to pin down are listed below.

English NameLatin Name
Bush GrassCalamagrostis epigejos
CocksfootDactylis glomerata
Meadow FoxtailAlopecurus pratensis
Slender False BromeBrachypodium sylvaticum
Tufted Hair GrassDeschampsia caespitosa
Wood Meadow GrassPoa nemorosa
Common Sedge [?]Carex nigra
Glaucous SedgeCarex flacca
Wood SedgeCarex sylvatica

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There is a wide variety of trees in the woodland, much of it planted. The conifers are introduced (except Scots Pine). The broad-leaves are native species, and probably naturally seeded here.

AshFraxinus excelsior
BeechFagus sylvatica
BlackthornPrunus spinosa
Corsican PinePinus nigra var. maritima
Crab AppleMalus sylvestris
DogwoodCornus sanguinea
Douglas FirPseudotsuga menziesii
ElderSambucus nigra
Field MapleAcer campestre
Goat WillowSalix caprea
HawthornCrataegus monogyna
HazelCorylus avellana
HollyIlex aquifolium
LarchLarix sp
OakQuercus sp.
RowanSorbus aucuparia
Scots PinePinus sylvestris
Serbian SprucePicea omorika
Silver BirchBetula pendula
SycamoreAcer pseudoplatanus
Western HemlockTsuga heterophylla
Western Red CedarThuja plicata
Wild CherryPrunus avium
Wych ElmUlmus glabra

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All photos © copyright 2000 Gill & Adrian Smith

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© Ryedale Natural History Society 1999
Page last modified 24th May 2000