Sunday, 14 September 2014

With the Autumn Lady`s-tresses the last Orchid to flower in our two year project, we now enter a phase of record collection and collation.
If you have records of orchids for this year...or even last year...that you have not sent in please do so now. Please dont wait until the end of the year. We will be very pleased to get them.
Search your brains and notebooks for old records of interest and send them in as well. The possible Lizard orchid sightings at moleskin for instance in the 1980`s would be very interesting to receive.

The ALT`s had a very good year..and its still worth a visit to Knocking hoe at Pegsdon to see them.
We counted over 400 plants that flowered this year. Many have been eaten by slugs or rabbits, but a good few have persisted and should be setting seed. The future is fairly rosie for this very restricted species, but it would be more secure if it managed to spread to other sites.

Orchids never seem to rest, and the ALT`s already have the shoots and leaves that will feed the tuber for next years flowers. Bee orchids are also just starting to show little green shoots at soil level having only had a month or two off from growing and flowering.
It`s possible we may recieve some new  bee orchid  from eagle eyed reorders before the end of the year!
Thanks to everyone who have sent in records, and i hope you have enjoyed the field work.
Its up to us now to get all the interesting stuff into the book!

For the future, and for those with a broader interest in Botany there is below an invitation from John Wakely to a meeting to re-launch a Bedfordshire Flora Group. This group will collect records for the forthcoming  new atlas of the flora of the British Isles due 2020. As john says any level of expertise is welcome and this is a good opportunity to improve your botanical skills.( and ...look for more orchids!!)
I hope to see as many of you as are interested on the 6th October, do come along and learn what the Flora Group is planning. Please let john know if you are coming..this will help with catering and any paperwork production!


In order to obtain records for his excellent 2010 'Flora of Bedfordshire', Chris Boon recruited an enthusiastic team of amateurs. Some were allocated a portion of the vice county (usually a 10k square). Members recorded the plants in their 'patch' over several flowering seasons. Chris provided help with advice and resources. Many of us learnt a lot as a result and became half decent field botanists.

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) is due to publish a new Atlas of the Flora of the British Isles in 2020. This will enable changes in the flora to be identified. In turn we can then attempt to explain these changes. This is likely to be vital in monitoring such factors as climate change, agricultural practice and urbanisation. Without the raw data we will not be able to target conservation effort.
BNHS is keen to establish a new flora group to gather records for the BSBI 2020 Atlas project. We would welcome anyone who wishes to get involved. Experience is not essential. We would welcome any level of expertise. It is appreciated that everyone will be able to devote different amounts of time. Help, support and tuition will be given as appropriate. 
I would like to invite anyone interested to an initial meeting to discuss aims, objectives and methods. This will be held at Priory Park at 19.30 on Mon 6th October. The meeting will last a maximum of 2 hours. I would appreciate if anyone interested would let me know.

John Wakely, co-ordinator"


Friday, 8 August 2014

Autumn Lady`s Tresses!

Richard Revels has recorded the first ALTs from Knocking hoe..nearly a whole month earlier than 2013.
This has been an unusual year for orchid flowering with Helleborines in particular flowering earlier than is thought to be usual.

The list of old records is shown below, as you can see all the records are quite old. However do keep an eye open for this lovely little orchid during August and September on old grassland. I think there could be colonies in old churchyards, old grassland such as Barton and Pegsdon hills and even old grass tennis courts!
This is our last species to look out for in our two year study of the Bedfordshires Wild Orchids. It would be fitting to find another couple of colonies.
Look out for it in short  to medium length grassland. The flowering stems can almost appear over night and it may be that a visit a couple of days or so after a shower may be the most productive...before the rabbits find them.

Who is going to get lucky?

7-Sep-1864 7-Sep-1864 Pavenham SP95X
1882 1882 Luton Near TL02V
1883 1883 Barton Hills TL02Z
1886 1886 Haynes TL04V
1881 1881 Exeter Farm TL04X
1799 1799 Crow Hills TL0353
1798 1798 Thurleigh TL05P
1867 1867 Basmead Manor TL16K

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Helleborines are back... sites to check...

Reports of the first Broad-leaved helleborines in flower are coming in. As with other species there is a list of sites  that have old, but no recent records. Some of these woods will not have access and will require permission to visit, please make every effort to gain legitimate access if you intend visiting. Gamekeepers will be preparing woods for game  and will not apreciate tresspass, although access on footpaths  is fine where rights of way exist.

30-May-19796-Jul-1980Home Wood, Potsgrove CWSSP955294SP92P
24-Jun-194927-Aug-1950Blackgrove WoodSP97902362SP92R
3-May-19803-May-1980Palmers Shrubs CWSSP981315SP93V
25-Aug-198125-Aug-1981Washers and Daintry Woods CWSSP995313SP93V
13-May-19806-Aug-1980Park Wood CWSSP933582SP95J
1-Jan-198031-Dec-1980Great Oaks Wood CWSSP965537SP95R
8-Aug-18858-Aug-1885Kidney WoodTL0919TL01Z
1-Jun-188830-Jun-1888Stockwood ParkTL01ZTL01Z
19-Jul-19494-Sep-1950Wilstead WoodTL073426TL04R
30-May-198930-May-1989Exeter Wood CWSTL098443TL04X
1-Jan-198131-Dec-1981Great Wood, RavensdenTL064555TL05S
1-Aug-184431-Aug-1844ShillingtonShillington WoodTL13BTL13B
30-May-198930-May-1989Warden Great Wood CWSTL110432TL14B
30-May-198930-May-1989Exeter Wood CWSTL100442TL14C
17981798Sheerhatch WoodTL14ITL14I
29/08/198829/08/1988Potton WoodTL247498TL24P
29/08/198829/08/1988Potton WoodTL246500TL25K

If one of these is near you please have a look over the coming month or so. Broad-leaved helleborines can be found mostly in woodland, but also occasionally in grassland or on woodland rides.
Please take a photo if you are in any doubt to identity, they can be quite variable in flower colour and even shape. Leaf shape and their arrangement on the stem is also important.

Broad-leaved helleborine. Richard Revels

Note broad leaves usually spirally arranged on stem rather than two rows opposite each other. Lower leaves as broad as is wide.

Broad-leaved Helleborine. Photo Richard Revells. Flowers may vary in colour with some almost wine red others green.

The Violet Helleborine  will be coming out soon. Keep an eye out for this attractive plant in the Studham/Whipsnade area. Even a trip to the Zoo could reveal the purple tinged stems beneath trees on the top of the chalk scarp!
But be prepared to see this plant in even small woods anywhere in the county. It can tolerate deep shade.
Here are two of Richard Revels` photos of Violet Helleborine.

Violet Helleborine..violet tinged stems and leaves. Lower leaves longer than wide.

Violet Helleborine

Here are the old records for Violet helleborine that need visiting again, although any ancient woodland may hold this species.

c. 1900 Woburn Abbey woods SP93R SP93R
1945 1953 Toddington Herne Green SP9930 SP93V
1953 Holcot Wood SP9540 SP94K
9-Jul-1949 5-Sep-1950 Marston Thrift woodland SP97504175 SP94Q
1989 1989 Studham garden lawn - formerly woodland TL01C TL01C
5-Aug-1997 5-Aug-1997 Whipsnade Heath CWS TL01551840 TL01E
1880 1880 Zouche’s Farm Copse near. TL02K TL02K
Luton TL02V TL02V
1-Jan-1990 31-Dec-1995 Kings Wood and Glebe Meadows, Houghton Conquest SSSI TL047397 TL03P
c.1890 Silsoe TL03X TL03X
c.1890 Clophill TL03Z TL03Z
1953 Luton Hoo TL11E TL11E
23-Jul-1983 23-Jul-1983 Horsleys Wood CWS TL132191 TL11J
c.1900 Tingley Field Plantation Tingley Wood Plantation TL1330 TL13F
      SP93R SP93R
          SP9930 SP93V
      SP9540 SP94K
          SP97504175 SP94Q
          TL01C TL01C
        TL01551840 TL01E
          TL02K TL02K
    TL02V TL02V
        TL047397 TL03P
      TL03X TL03X
      TL03Z TL03Z
      TL11E TL11E
        TL132191 TL11J
        TL1330 TL13F
The Green-flowered Helleborine is a rare orchid in Bedfordshire but nevertheless worth looking out for.
We have records submitted  already for the Barton cutting on the A6 in traditional areas.  The new woodland associated with the cutting may hold this species as it has some reputation of appearing in new locations, and any woodland should be looked at in the Barton to Pegsdon area.

The "Barton Caves" area on Old Road Barton being one old location.

Green-flowered Helleborine. Photo Richard Revels. Was also known as Pendulous- flowered Helleborine the flowers dangling on large pods. The flowers are frequently not as open as this and are self -pollinated.

Green-flowered Helleborine. Photo Richard Revels. Ovaries hairless

Green-flowered Helleborine with irregular clumps of cilia along leaf margin compared with an even fringe in other Helleborines.

A hand lens is useful here!

Good luck with your searches and i look forward to your records.