Bradford Botany Group

Northumberland

July 3rd – July 7th 2008

Dark red helleborine

On our way up to Northumberland we stopped at Bishop Middleham Quarry in County Durham. This disused magnesian limestone quarry has lots of interesting calcicole species including common rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium), fairy flax (Linum catharticum), greater knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) and musk thistle (Carduus nutans). We also saw the bright red-purple flowers of bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum), plus rest-harrow (Ononis repens), which smells of Vaseline when the leaves are crushed. Orchids included dark red helleborine (Epipactis atrorubens), bee orchid (Ophrys apifera) and fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia densiflora).

Musk Thistle

Lindisfarne helleborine

On our first full day we visited the Snook dune slacks on Lindisfarne. Highlights included the endemic Lindisfarne helleborine (Epipactis sancta). Other species seen were marsh helleborine (Epipactis palustris), seaside centaury (Centaurium littorale) and purple milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus).

Seaside Centaury

Dark violet form of pyramidal orchid

In the afternoon we visited the northern mainland dune system, where we saw common broomrape (Orobanche minor) hosting on clover. This was a new record for the island. A popular find was the dark violet colour form of pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis var. sanguineum). This deeper flower colour is more often found on sand dunes. Then we went to the pub for a meal in the beer garden and waited for the tide to go out, which gave us plenty of time to pick off the pirri-pirri bur (Acaena novae-zeelandiae) from our clothes.

Common Broomrape

Chickweed willowherb

On Saturday we visited the Cheviot to look for the vestiges of alpine flora amongst the crags. We walked up a stream we found the delicate starry saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris), common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), parsley fern (Cryptogramma crispa) and chickweed willowherb (Epilobium alsinifolium), an attractive plant which was declared the find of the weekend. As we ate our lunch near the top of the hill, it started to spot with rain. Walking along the top of the hill amongst the heather we found stiff sedge (Carex bigelowii), followed by a search for dwarf cornel (Cornus suecica), which we found before the rain set in.

Parsley Fern

Maiden pink

On our final full day we visited Warkworth Dunes. This is a substantial area of stabilised sand dunes backed by a saltmarsh. Amongst the interesting species we found were maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides), the white form of rest-harrow (Ononis repens f. albiflora). We also came across Wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus), the white wild thyme (Thymus polytrichus forma albus) and restharrow growing together which made an attractive colour combination. On the way to Newham Fen we stopped off to see Lady Clermont’s fern at its only locality in the country. This plant is a hybrid between wall rue and maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium x clermontiae).

Wild Thyme with Restharrow

Marsh cinquefoil

At Newham Fen, a national nature reserve which consists of a central open fen, fed by calcareous water and surrounded by birch/willow carr, we found herb paris (Paris quadrifolia), marsh cinquefoil (Potentilla palustris), lesser butterfly orchid (Platanthera bifolia) and the common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) with white flowers and yellow pollinia. Sedges included lesser tussock sedge (Carex diandra) and slender sedge (Carex lasiocarpa). After a successful day plant hunting we returned to the Castle Hotel for dinner and thanks to our field leader, Chris Metherell.

Common Spotted Orchid

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