A First Hunt 2007


Viola hirta

Hairy Violet
Viola hirta
7th March 2007

Potentilla sterilis

Barren Strawberry
Potentilla sterilis
7th March 2007

Cerastium pumilum

Dwarf Mouse-ear
Cerastium pumilum
7th March 2007

senecio vulagris

Groundsel
Senecio vulgaris
7th March 2007

Ulex europaeus

Gorse
Ulex euopaeus
7th March 2007

smyrnium olustarum

Alexanders
Smyrnium olusatrum
7th March 2007

Veronica polita

Grey Field-Speedwell
Viola polita
7th March 2007

euphorbia characias

Mediterranean Spurge
Euphorbia characias
7th March 2007

Sonchus oleraceus

Smooth Sow-thistle
Sonchus oleraceus
7th March 2007

euphorbia peplus

Petty Spurge
Euphorbia peplus
7th March 2007

The Great Orme 7th March 2007

This part of the Great Orme is south facing limestone with woodland, rough ground and open limestone crags all habitats for different types of flowers. Later in the year the woodland area will reveal Columbines (Aquilegia vulgaris), Wood sanicle (Sanicula europaea) and Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima) but now in March the dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) was surprisingly showing hardly any flowers so it was time to head out onto the open slopes.

Very soon another Violet was in evidence but this time instead of the large patches of wide, kidney shaped leaves both flowers and narrower leaves were poking through at the same time. This was Hairy Violet (Viola hirta) perversely known for the fact that it often seems to have very few hairs but with blunt sepals like Sweet Violet. Nearby a small mouse-ear was just beginning to flower. From the reddish stems and that fact that the sepals were equal in length to the petals (and the fact that I know it grows here!) this was was identified as Dwarf Mouse-ear (Cerastium pumilum). Identification is sometimes easier very early in the season for there are many different mouse-ears to confuse matters, very few of them are in flower this early. Just poking through nearby was a very small example of Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) a weed which will flower anytime in the year and can usually be found in the winter months.

One flower which can be spotted even from fast moving train or car is the Gorse (Ulex europaeus). This plant brightens up the countryside in March but in 2007 it has been seen flowering from January onwards. Another usually early flower found most often by the sea is Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum). This also can flower in February but his year it seemed to me to be just on time. By this time (about mid-day) the temperature had soared to a stifling 14C and in this sheltered south facing habitat the flies were buzzing around the umbels of the Alexanders.

Walking towards the gardens where there were once carefully tended flower beds (now somewhat less carefully looked after I'm pleased to say), I studied the weeds in the beds. This is where the "rules" must be carefully applied. You can't count flowers which are descendants of originally planted material in the flower beds themselves but nobody plants Grey Field-speedwell (Veronica polita) which was just starting to flower.

These beds have many specimens of Mediterranean Spurge (Euphorbia characias ssp characias) obviously planted many years ago and which thrive here on the Orme. Some has escaped into nearby woodland where there never has been any man-made bed so this can reasonable be counted as a naturalised garden escape.

Wherever there are mad-made beds the usual weeds will try to make a home and sure enough at the bottom of the raised beds growing from a crack between the wall and the walkway was Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus). This inconspicuous plant is easily missed on a botanising trip although i see it all too often in my own garden where it continues to flower through the winter.

A little further on a small Smooth Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) had produced its first flower of the season. This plant looks a little thistle like but the leaves are soft without any prickles. It's cousin Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper) however does have spines but none of that was to be seen today.