Bradford Botany Group

South Dewsbury Visit

3rd August 2013

 

 

 

The weather was a little cool and windy at the start of this trip and there was the threat of the occasional shower, but this was not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the group. The weather soon improved, anyway. Fourteen members attended, a good number considering that the venue for this walk had been changed at relatively short notice.

 

Andrew said in his introductory talk that we would partly be walking on the cycleway that runs between Dewsbury and Ossett and that we needed be aware of cyclists when observing plants. The route for the morning involved walking along the River Calder for the majority of the time, with shorter sections along the canal and a stretch of former railway line. The whole walk was very pleasant and picturesque. Not many of the group had been to this area before (it was also new to me), so there was an element of discovery, which added to the interest.

 

 

In part of the walk, a sewage pipe had been laid by the side of the path, and then sewn with a wildflower mix, which, along with garden escapes and plantings in other sections, provided us some with some interesting species. All the target species were seen, including the Late Cotoneaster , Traveller’s-joy and the Great Lettuce. Himalayan Cotoneaster was also seen. The Cotoneaster species are, apparently, two of about twelve common species of Cotoneaster that are found in this area.

Hare’s-foot Clover

Shortly into the walk, Andrew demonstrated how to prove conclusively whether a tree is a Dogwood or not by gently pulling the leaf apart. If the leaf belongs to a Dogwood, then the sap will set immediately and the lower half of the leaf will hang down from the upper, by ‘threads’ of sap. A few huge Giant Hogweeds were spotted by the side of the river, with some being at least twelve feet tall. At one point, there were large drifts of Hare’s-foot Clover, which were very striking and a stand of the cross between Oxford Ragwort and Sticky Groundsel caught the attention. A relative of the Hawthorn from south east Europe and south west Asia, the Oriental Hawthorn was pointed out shortly after that.

 

 

This walk had a strong edible element to it and featured fruits of various species throughout. First, near the beginning of the walk, a few Cherry Plum cherries were consumed by one or two members of the group. Then, Andrew pointed out a few plants of Loganberry, which is the cross between Blackberry and Raspberry . There were one or two fruits, but not enough for everyone to have a taste! Shortly afterwards, we passed by a fig tree, although that didn’t have any fruits on it. Blackberries and raspberries were also consumed, along with a few mulberries from a tree by the side of the road as we walked back to the cars.

Crown Vetch

We then drove to another car park not far away. After lunch, we walked down a short, steep section of road and saw a large, beautiful stand of Crown Vetch , in a fenced off area of unused land. We passed another target species, the Lesser Meadow-rue, on the way. Not long after that , however, we came across two Wild Cherry trees, which had plenty of fruit on them. Botany was temporarily put to one side, as the whole group descended on the tree and tucked in!
 

The afternoon walk was shorter than the one in the morning had been, but was still full of interest all the same. Further along the former disused railway, Small Nettle was an interesting species to see, not one I had seen before. There were many species that were new to me, in fact, including Charlock , Common and Spear-leaved Orache , Red Goosefoot and Lesser Swine-cress . A close relative of the Hawthorn from North America, the rather wonderfully named Broad-leaved Cockspurthorn, was seen towards the end of the walk. That is what I love about coming on these trips – I always learn so many new species.

 

We were all grateful to Andrew for organising this trip at short notice and for leading it with his usual abundant enthusiasm.

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