Rye Grass

Rye Grass–Lolium perenne, is a very variable grass and can take many forms. Many people will recognise it as the ubiquitous grass seen in improved pastures and the first record of its use in agriculture was by Plot (1677) in his Natural History of Oxfordshire.

I have seen many strange forms of Rye grass but the one in the photo I have not come across before. It is described in the books as  forma ramosum and named by the Danish botanist, Schumacher (1757–1830).

The flowering time of Rye grass depends on light intensity and temperature between 10am to noon and if the weather is not suitable, the plant will delay until after the first subsequent morning with favourable conditions.

Earthworms can bury the seed up to 6″ deep and viability isn’t affected, whereas the viability of Common Bent seed is dramatically reduced after going through the gut. Earthworms seem to be able to discriminate between seeds of different plant species and may play a major role in plant dispersal. Research suggests that worm casts are a stable environment for seeds to delay germination until conditions are suitable.

Photos were taken below the railway arches in the centre of Todmorden. You can see the normal arrangement of unbranched spikelets at the top of the stem but until I bent all the lower branches apart, I was really puzzled what was going on. Each individual spikelet of Perennial Rye grass only has one protective scale (grasses normally have two). The wavy ‘pocket’ of the stem shown on the last photo, substitutes for the inner scale. Yet the uppermost spikelet has 2 protective scales as lies free of the stem.

Normal spikelets at the top of the stem and the flurry of ‘bits’ lower down which shouldn’t be there.

All the congested bits pulled apart, showing a very unusual branching pattern

Normal Rye grass arrangement. In flower and showing anthers protruding

2020-10-22T17:06:06+01:00October 22nd, 2020|1 Comment

Medlar Hybrid

I have mentioned previously an unusual Midland Hawthorn and Medlar hybrid in Centre Vale at Todmorden. It has flowered profusely for a few years after releasing from the heavy shade of Rhododendron but has never produced any fruit.

However this Autumn there is a branch that is full of berries, perhaps for the first time in decades. Each contains 2 seeds.

If you want to grow from seed, they have double dormancy and below are instructions from a website I consulted. I think patience is needed as the process takes 2 years!

To begin with the seeds require a cold period to break the final part of the dormancy, this is achieved by placing the bag [with seeds in a soil medium] in the fridge (4 Celsius or 39F) for around 52 weeks.

Next the seeds require a period of warm pre-treatment and need to be kept in temperatures of around 20 Celsius (68F) for a period of at least 36 weeks. During this time make sure that the pre-treatment medium does not dry out at any stage or it will be ineffective!

Following this, the seeds require a second cold period for around 17 weeks. Towards the end of this period it is quite possible for the seeds to germinate in the bag at these temperatures when they are ready to do so, (it is worth checking the bag every few weeks for germinating seedlings) if they do, just remove them from the bag and carefully plant them up.

Trees. Smith's Medlar


2020-09-30T08:50:30+01:00September 28th, 2020|3 Comments

Hard Shield Fern

Today Peachysteve and I walked up the stream in one of the steep-sided cloughs in Henacre Wood at the Queensbury end of Shibden Valley.
We were looking to record the location of the Soft Shield Fern Laurence and I saw earlier in the year.

We missed the Soft Shield Fern but found a Hard Shield Fern on the other side

Collecting a specimen involved a bit of ‘extreme botanising’ from Peachysteve

Polystichum aculeatum, a specialist of damp wooded gorges.
The first I’ve seen and a nice one to add to the list

Julian Birkhead

2020-09-06T18:22:21+01:00September 6th, 2020|2 Comments

Warley Moor – Posted by Dave Sutcliffe

 Euphrasia species ??
Lots of it in flower all along the reservoir embankment this morning.
Very tiny, creeping among the other plants especially on the exposed part of the west facing ridge.
These are the best I could get as didn’t have the macro lens with me.

2020-09-03T08:09:06+01:00September 3rd, 2020|1 Comment

Red Grass

The perception is that grasses are green, yet this striking example of Reed Canary Grass shows the lovely red inflorescence in July. It is a grass that prefers damp or watery habitats and can grow very tall, 5 foot, with a stem that is stout and reed-like. It often grows side branches from the stem nodes as seen in the photo, or sometimes aerial roots as the stem leans towards the water.

Reed Canary Grass with red flowering head.

New stem leaves growing from a node

2020-08-23T09:03:36+01:00August 21st, 2020|0 Comments

Rare or Overlooked?

While out on a Grassland Survey last week I found a plant which I have not recorded in Calderdale before.

I know it has been recorded by Bruce Brown nr Withens Reservoir but despite looking for it there I couldn’t find it.

I wonder though if it is really rare or just very difficult to spot.

Here is a picture of a bare patch in an otherwise grassy meadow.

Click to enlarge, I doubt you will be able to see much there.

A closer look just in case there is something interesting there.

Look like a little Rush

Bristle Club Rush

On closer inspection it is Bristle Club Rush (Isolepis setacea)

Such a tiny little plant, it must be so easy to miss.

It likes damp open places. If you see it, let me know.

2020-08-19T12:09:50+01:00August 19th, 2020|4 Comments

Rishworth – Meadows and miscellaneous

I have been out a lot yesterday and today. Here are a whole ton of things of interest.

Above we have Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris. It is a common plant along streams and brooks, as it enjoys wet soils. Bees also enjoys the very round umbrella-like flowers, hence the name of the type of flower, umbellifer.

Above, we have Bird’s Foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus.  A common meadow plant it is a member of the pea family and also the foodplant of the Common Blue butterfly.

The above fern is Common Male Fern Dryopteris filix-mas.

Common Figwort Scrophularia nodosa above, quite a peculiar plant.

The above is Sowbread, also known as Cyclamen hederifolium.

I do not know if this is Mugwort or Monks Hood, it was growing in a field.

Above, is Wild Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum.

Is this Common Knapweed or Greater Knapweed?

I was rather amazed to find this Scented Mayweed Matricaria chamomilla.

Then this is Feverfew Tanecetum parthenium.

Then finally to finish up, White Stonecrop Sedum album.

2020-08-17T15:57:06+01:00August 11th, 2020|2 Comments

The shape of Oak leaves

These are Sessile Oak leaves all growing from the same small branch.

I don’t think I have seen such a variation in shape, from huge leaf with shallow lobes to smaller, very narrow leaves with hooded lobes, resembling Turkey Oak.

Oaks are so genetically diverse and the Sessile characteristics can merge with Pedunculate, making it difficult to identify hybrids.

It is always recommended not to identify using shade leaves, or the mid-summer Lammas growth, as both these can produce oddities such as in the photos.

2020-08-08T08:26:41+01:00August 7th, 2020|2 Comments

Common Vetch

After noting the seedling 2 months ago, it was nice to see the plant which seeded itself under our pea trellis in the garden, was in flower.

I am pretty sure it is Common Vetch Vicia sativa.

2020-08-08T08:30:37+01:00August 7th, 2020|1 Comment

Pale Flax?

Found this here in Rishworth. I have got it down to Linum Sp. but I suspect Pale Flax Linum bienne.

2020-08-06T08:04:50+01:00August 5th, 2020|0 Comments
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