Original Report from WFS Magazine

2001 Watlington Hill Oxfordshire 11 July One Day Meeting

Four of last year's one-day meetings were not reported on last Autumn. All were evidently very much enjoyed by those taking part.

Seventeen members met Tom Fowler at Watlington Hill in the Oxfordshire Chilterns on 11 July, a fine but windy day in which the forecast heavy showers fortunately did not materialise. The walk around the hill in the morning revealed a rich chalk flora, notable among which were several clumps of Iberis amara (Wild Candytuft) and almost hidden in the short turf Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid), both of which kept the photographers busy. A convoy of cars then proceeded to the well-known Warburg Reserve at Bix Bottom, where, after lunch, the assistant warden gave a brief introductory talk. In the afternoon Tom was greatly assisted by Bill and Carol Hawkins who know the reserve particularly well. Among the plants found in the woodland areas were Polygonatum multiflorum (Solomon's-seal), Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's-nest Orchid), Dryopteris carthusiana (Narrow Buckler-fem) and the fairly recently discovered Cynoglossum germanicum (Green Hound's-tongue). Bill led some of the party to a heavily wooded area near the top of the reserve where they found some plants of Daphne mezereum (Mezereon) carrying a few berries. The only specimens of Epipactis purpurata (Violet Helleborine) found had been eaten down to a short stem by deer, but there were several other species of Epipactis found, including E. leptochila (Narrow-lipped Helleborine) and E. phyllanthes (Green- flowered Helleborine).

On 11 August Pippa Hyde led a joint meeting of the WFS and London Natural History Society which explored the Thames path below Hampton Court and then went into Hampton Court and Bushy Parks. Considering that this is all within the present boundary of London, a surprising variety of flowering plants was found, including two nationally scarce species. The towpath plants included alien crucifers Hirschfeldia incana (Hoary Mustard) and Diplotaxis muralis (Annual Wall-Rocket), both more familiar to the Londoners than the visitors, the local speciality Salvia verbenaca (Wild Clary) and Hypericum hircinum (Stinking Tutsan). The first scarce plant seen was Scilla autumnalis (Autumn Squill), a well-known colony numbering a few hundred flowering plants, but worryingly close to the ground which gets annually flattened by the Hampton Court Flower Show held in the Home Park. Bushy Park had Impatiens capensis (Orange Balsam) by the ponds and water-courses, but the really important plant there was Limosella aquatica (Mudwort), first found here by Pippa in 1985 and not seen anywhere within the present boundaries of London since the 19th century.

Michael Wilcox, a local botanist who has been studying the plants in Woodside Quarry, Leeds, and Jesse Tregale were met by over twenty WFS members on 8 September. Although rather late in the season for many of the plants to be found there, it was an ideal date for looking at the roses and cotoneasters. Eight of the latter were seen, including Cotoneaster conspicuus, C. hjelmqvistii, C. mairei and C. rehderi, and the roses included Rosa ferruginea (Red-leaved Rose) and three hybrids. Sedum sexangulare (Tasteless Stonecrop) was unfortunately not in flower, but Michael could demonstrate the differences between X Agropogon littoralis (Perennial Beard-grass) and its two parents Agrostis stolonifera (Creeping Bent) and Polypogon monspeliensis (Annual Beard-grass).

30 September was meant to be another very wet day, but in spite of the forecast 13 members met lan Green at Clatworthy Reservoir in a valley sheltered from the wind Elatine hexandra (Six-stamened Waterwort) was flowering beautifully. Alopecurus aequalis (Orange Foxtail) and A. geniculatus (Marsh Foxtail) were both very plentiful. The hybrid between these two grasses was also pointed out. Four mints were seen, M. aquatica, M. arvensis, the hybrid between these two M. x verticillata and also M. x gracilis, the hybrid between M. arvensis and M. spicata. Another hybrid Potentilla x suberecta (P. erecta x P. anglicd) was noted and later confirmed by the BSBI Potentilla referee Dr Brenda Harold. Mimulus moschatus (Musk) was flowering and plentiful whilst there were only two very dead specimens of Orobanche rapum-genistae (Greater Broomrape). Rorippa palustris (Marsh Yellow-cress) was very thinly scattered around the shores of the reservoir, while the very similar R. islandica (Northern Yellow-cress) was very abundant. Dr Tim Rich later confirmed this new species for England as well as for Somerset.

My thanks to all those who have supplied the material for the above account.