Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Above Wroughton

Yellow Oat-grass (Trisetum flavescens) and Crested Dog's-tail (Cynosurus cristatus)

These are some pictures from a midsummer evening ramble (23rd June 2016) on an unremarkable  part of the Marlborough Downs, just above Wroughton. (Close to the Science Museum Large Object Store at Wroughton Airfield.)

Above, a semi-native meadow with Yellow Oat-grass (Trisetum flavescens) and Crested Dog's-tail (Cynosurus cristatus).  I think it also had Meadow Fescue, but I didn't realize what I had seen until afterwards (I supposed it was Tall Fescue) so I didn't photograph it.

Patch of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum)

A patch of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum). Detail below. If you zoom in, you'll see the spike-like racemes and the distinctive stem-nodes, appearing white. 

Patch of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) - detail

Spikes of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum)

Spike, or raceme? As the spikelets have no pedicels this ought to mean  that it's a spike, but it doesn't really look like a spike. I know that's not a very scientific statement.

Tor-grass is disliked by many ecologists, even though it's a native grass. Its recent spread in chalk grassland is clearly related to intensive farming and the increased nitrogen in the soil. In these conditions it becomes highly invasive, driving out the rich variety of species in our traditional chalkland flora.

More information about this:

Hairy St John's-wort (Hypericum hirsutum) coming into flower

Here's a plant I never tuned into before, Hairy St John's-wort (Hypericum hirsutum), just coming into flower. Apparently it's fairly common across most of England. The numerous black glands on the sepals attracted my attention. The hairy stems and leaves are diagnostic. I looked for "perforations" in the leaves, and it did appear to have some, though scanty and extremely minute, compared to what I've seen before in H. perforatum.

Leaves and stem of Hairy St John's-wort (Hypericum hirsutum)

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