Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The ragworts of Shaw Forest Park

This is Common Ragwort, which is the Senecio jacobaea of my formative years, but now renamed Jacobaea vulgaris.

(Jacobaea - ragworts - have been split from Senecio - groundsels -, following molecular analysis).

I took these photos at Shaw Forest Park, Swindon, on 11th July 2016. They made a strangely glorious sight that evening, on the mound above the old landfill.

So strange, that when I was looking at these photos afterwards I decided they must be a species less familiar to me, Hoary Ragwort (J. erucifolia). But the experts queried this when I put them on the Facebook Wild Flower Group; apparently J. erucifolia is not even in flower yet.  And a re-visit has convinced me that they are indeed J. vulgaris, though my eye and camera had picked out the least typical individuals.

I'm not sure if anyone else will be able to see what I mean: the space in the open corymb, the long ray-florets, the thin scanty leaves and and beetroot-red stems were the main components. All of these, however, seem to be within the range of Common Ragwort variation, so I'll set it down to biodynamic factors, or maybe some unusual edaphic challenges in the location.

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