Thursday, February 01, 2018

Almost Adlestrop

There was a station and nothing much happened but at least we raised the count of plant species in and around Llanwrtyd Wells since the year 2000 from 4 to 77 on a colder than expected day this week.

It had occurred to me that the Crickhowell New Year Plant Hunt this year demonstrated that botanising at this time of year can yield significant and useful results, So why not make a start in the Llanwrtyd Wells area with the town itself in the same way (except for not caring if the plants were in flower).

No pictures were taken - despite taking our cameras around the whole route and nothing startling was found but several species probably won't be seen later in the year when we visit areas around the town to make more records. We were basically very cold!

But Andy was able to show us where one of the plants that has been recorded since 2000 might be seen later in the year, right by the main bridge in town.

Hieracium subminutidens, Llanwrtyd Hawkweed  grows only in this area of the Irfon Valley - to quote from Tim Rich's Paper in Watsonia:

"Hieracium subminutidens (Zahn) Pugsley (Asteraceae), Llanwrytyd Hawkweed, is a rare Welsh endemic, known from the River Irfon catchment at Llanwrytyd and Abergwesyn..."

This complex genus is best left to the real experts like Tim but it is good to know about them and see them when you have been told what you are seeing!

The other records since 2000 for the area are also for Hawkweeds:

Hieracium sabaudum , Autumn Hawkweed by Hanson, Gordon in 2014
Hieracium consociatum, Sociable Hawkweed (!) by Tim Rich and Mike Shewring in 2008

and interestingly the oldest record on the BSBI database for the area is this:

Hieracium argillaceum, Southern Hawkweed by Miles, BA in 1955

Our best find ? Possibly Arum italicum subsp. italicum, Italian Lords-and-Ladies which we probably should have photographed. Here is one I took (much) earlier:
Italian Lords-and-Ladies or Arum italicum subsp. italicum

(2006 at Watery Combe, Chewton Mendip)

We were glad to repair to the Neuadd Arms for excellent beer and some lunch after our efforts in the hail!

Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat, the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire

Edward Thomas