Thursday, 9 July 2015

New Wildflowers

This may be a damp summer, but it's having wonderful effects on some of the wildflowers. Plants like lousewort, Pedicularis sylvatica, (above) are thriving across the hills....

....but it was while we were paddling through one of the boggier areas that we noticed this plant. While it appears to have a typical lousewort flower, it has a completely different structure. Instead of hugging the ground, it grows upwards on a sturdy stem, so it looks like a miniature Christmas tree.  A search on the internet found it quickly: it's marsh lousewort, Pedicularis palustris, which is less common that the 'common' lousewort.

We found a small colony of these little plants in one of the hollows between the dunes at Sanna. It has the odd name of biting stonecrop, Sedum acre, the acre bit meaning 'bitter', from the taste of the leaves.  It's a succulent, storing water in its leaves, which is why it's able to survive on such a sandy soil.

Another Sanna plant that has the capacity to survive in almost impossible conditions is sea rocket, Cakile maritima. This one was growing i amongst the seaweed on the sand at the back of the southernmost of Sanna's bays, in an area where the beach was almost completely removed during the winter but has recently reappeared. We need to go back and find it again as it was about to flower: it has very pretty white or pale pink flowers.

There's nothing 'new' about any of these flowers - they've been around for years and we've probably walked past them a thousand times - but finding them, recognising that we haven't 'noticed' them before, and then identifying them gives a great deal of pleasure.

This isn't new to us, nor is it a plant, but it's included simply because this is the best picture I've taken of the lichen, British soldier. All lichens are a partnership between a fungus and an alga. The fungus in British soldiers is Cladonia cristatella, and the alga is Trebouxia erici. This one was one the exposed, upper slopes of Ben Hiant, and was thriving on a bare rock.

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