Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Welsh common bits


My trusty floral guide book (in this case the Collins Complete Guide to British Wild Flowers) says that the Devil's-bit Scabiose grows in damp areas. It also says the Cross-leaved Heath favours water-logged margins of various habitats, in wetter locations than the other heaths. Both grow in front of the orange bracken in the foreground of this picture.

Well, on the weekend I was in Wales, and it was wet. Not only did it rain (or snow or hail) every now and then, there seemed to always be a stream within earshot. Clearly there is a lot of water falling on Wales, running through Wales and undoubtedly held within the soil of Wales.

Wales was wet, and becoming leafless. When I posted a few days ago from Prowis, in mid-Wales, the trees were holding their autumn colour (albeit  susceptible to the slightest breeze). Down in south Wales - at Newport on the west coast of Pembrokeshire - many trees were almost bare. I'm not sure if this was local climate differences, different species or a stray gust of wind. Possible a mix of all three. In this picture I notice some still green-leaved deciduous trees so it may even have been a misperception...


It reminded me of how much I enjoyed winter last year: the skeletal trees, seeing through the landscape, and the more than 50 shades of grey...

The two plants I found in flower in the hills behind Newport were stretching their flowering season. They are both spring flowerers, extending into October but not November. However if you look hard enough (and I've mentioned this before in my blog) you can often find a plant still in flower out of season.



This, the Devil's-bit Scabiose (Succisa pratensis) is an extremely common species in the UK, but I knew it only from our UK Native Seed Hub at Wakehurst Place, in leaf, as illustrated by this picture taken in August last year.


Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) is again common, but it's something I've yet to see in full bloom. So these few flowers I photographed today were fun to find.


I'm still a colonial discovering the British flora, and these are common species across the kingdom. Of the nearly 1500 flowering plant and fern species native to, or long-time inhabitants (archeophytes) of, Wales, 38 are now extinct and 256 are under threat of heading that way. On the up side, 80% are relatively secure.

I also noticed lots of variety in the bryophytes (mosses and the like) and foliose (leafy) lichens. All of which confirmed that precipitation is not unexpected in that neck of the woods. Still, in between the showers, there was glorious (but still cold) sunshine. I'll end with a picture of the neighbouring town Fishguard, just after it finished hailing. Hang on, I can still see some autumn colour here!


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