This is the tenth update to the year-long survey of the valley’s herbaceous plants being carried out by volunteers with the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group. The group is compiling a modern list to compare with the list of 657 species drawn up by local doctor and amateur botanist W.H. Cullen in 1849, although his list includes trees and non-flowering plants such as ferns. So far this year, the group has located 400 species, most on the Victorian list but some not seen by Cullen.
Reports from previous months can be found elsewhere on the website and all of the group’s records can be found on the iNaturalist database at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/umbrella-to-sidmouth-hedgerow-herbaceous.
The world of herbaceous plants is closing down for the winter. There are fewer and fewer flying insects and so there is little point in plants expending resources to produce new flowers, it is now all about next year’s seeds. We still found 102 species in flower braving the autumn storms, but in nowhere near the abundance of summer. Several of these, such as the Sea Campion on the beach, Green Alkanet in Salcombe Regis hedges, Wood Avens around the edge of Margaret’s Meadow, and Buttercups in the Knapp meadow, should have finished flowering by now but our sheltered valley allows many species to thrive outside of their usual seasons.
We have found ten new species this month. Some, such as the Marsh Cudweed found in a wet meadow in the Roncombe Valley, were probably there all summer but spotted for the first time by the volunteers. One collection of species is new to the valley because they were introduced with the turf laid as part of the flood alleviation scheme in Knowle. All of a sudden, we have White Campion and Carthusian Pink in our midst, as well as a new colony of Ragged Robin.
As in September, the Asteraceae or composite flowers such as Dandelions and Hawkbits were the dominant family with over a quarter of the recorded species. Two new finds in this family are the Hawkweed Oxtongue (left) on the Delderfield Nature Reserve, and Shaggy Soldier (see front cover) found growing round the back of Winchester’s greengrocers. There is a tension between those who want the town to be tidy and those who are happy to see plants such as Shaggy Soldier and Danish Scurvy Grass which have made their home in the cracks at the foot of our town centre walls and aren’t found elsewhere.
We have two more months of the project and, while more and more species will give up flowering, the old faithfuls such as Dandelion and Daisy will carry on, and it will be interesting to see when the early spring flowers such as Winter Heliotrope, Winter Aconite, Sweet Violet and Snowdrops open for business.
Herbaceous species recorded flowering in the Sid Valley area October 2021
(Species new to the list this month are in bold.)
|Alkanet, Green||Figwort, Common||Ragwort, Oxford|
|Angelica, Wild||Fleabane, Common||Ragwort, Silver|
|Avens, Wood||Fleabane, Mexican||Redshank|
|Balm||Groundsel, Common||Samphire, Rock|
|Balsam, Himalayan||Hawkbit, Autumn||Sea-spurrey, Rock|
|Bellflower, Trailing||Hawkbit, Rough||Selfheal|
|Bindweed, Field||Hawksbeard, Smooth||Soldier, Shaggy|
|Bindweed, Hedge||Hemp-nettle, Red||Sorrel, Least Yellow|
|Bindweed, Large||Herb Robert||Sorrel, Pale Pink|
|Bramble||Hogweed||Sow Thistle, Smooth|
|Buttercup, Meadow||Knapweed, Brown||Sowthistle, Prickly|
|Campion, Red||Knapweed, Common||Speedwell, Thyme-leaved|
|Campion, Sea||Knotgrass, Equal-leaved||Spurge, Petty|
|Campion, White||Mallow, Musk||Stitchwort, Lesser|
|Carrot, Wild||Marigold, Corn||Strawberry, Wild|
|Carrot, Wild Sea||Mayweed, Scentless||Tare, Smooth|
|Cat’s Ear, Common||Meadowsweet||Thistle, Creeping|
|Celandine, Greater||Medick, Black||Thrift, Sea|
|Chamomile||Mouse-ear, Common||Toadflax, Common|
|Charlock||Mustard, Hoary||Toadflax, Ivy-Leaved|
|Chervil, Rough||Nettle, Common||Toadflax, Purple|
|Cinquefoil, Creeping||Nipplewort||Valerian, Red|
|Clover, Red||Orache, Common||Vetch, Bush|
|Clover, White||Oxtongue, Bristly||Vetchling, Meadow|
|Cornflower||Oxtongue, Hawkweed||Violet, Common Dog|
|Crane’s-bill, Druce’s||Pellitory of the Wall||Wall-rocket, Annual|
|Cudweed, Marsh||Pimpernel, Scarlet||Watercress|
|Daisy, Common||Pink, Carthusian||Willowherb, American|
|Daisy, Ox Eye||Plantain, Ribwort||Willowherb, Spear-leaved|
|Dandelion||Poppy, Yellow Horned||Woundwort, Hedge|
|Deadnettle, White||Ragged Robin||Yarrow|