Starbotton in Wharfedale

It should be so easy. Just take a picture and look it up in the book later. I thought this was an Early Purple but the book says that that orchid has blotched leaves and this one definately didn’t. On the slopes of Moor End Fell above Starbotton in upper Wharfedale.

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Rhododendron ponticum

It is generally accepted that Rhododendrons are native to the shores around the Black Sea and were introduced to Britain in the mid 18th century for its a blaze of colour during early summer but the shrub was actually part of the British flora before the last ice year.

In my posting a few days ago about oak trees I linked to a study listing the number of insect species associated with various British shrubs. The oak came top out of the 30 shrubs and trees listed with 284 species of insect. Guess how many species are associated with the Rhododendron?

A clue: it came bottom of the list.

This answer is none. Nil, …zero, …zilch.

Conservation bodies agree that Rhododendrons are an invasive species, crowding out native flora, and undertake programmes to control its spread.

Himalayan Balsam by the River Leven

I’ve never noticed these flowers before; the footpath by the river being normally a winter exit from the village for me. They go by a variety of names: Policeman’s Helmet, Gnome’s Hatstand and Kiss-me-on-the-mountain to name three. But the most common name, a name which causes dread among environmental and wildlife groups is Himalayan Balsam.

It originates, as the name suggests, from the Himalayas, and was introduced into this country by Victorian plant collectors but quickly escaped from gardens and is now considered such an invasive species that much effort is put into controlling its spread. The problems are that Himalayan Balsam’s thick ground cover shades out other native plants, in winter it dies back leaving river banks exposed to erosion and its flowers produce far more nectar than native flowers. This means that bumblebees and other insects pollinators prefer the Himalayan Balsam at the expense of other wild flowers. To cap it all Himalayan Balsam has a very aggressive method of seed dispersal. A single seed can produce a plant 2.5m high in a single season with each plant producing 800 seeds and each seed being capable of being projected 7m away.

Link to map.

Rosebay Willowherb

Back on the North York Moors and a chilly and wet morning run with the dog. Rosebay Willowherb is one of the first plants to grow after forest fires hence the name Fireweed it is sometimes called. The light seed heads are easily carried along in the slipstream of trains and road traffic so Rosebay Willowherb is a great coloniser of railway embankments and road verges.

Another name which must date from the 1940s is Bombweed as it was the first plant to grows in bomb craters.

Cottongrass, Great Ayton Moor

Back on the North York Moors for a day and a run with the dog in the morning. Cottongrass is a plant that livens up the moors with its bobbing seed heads even in the slightest breeze. It’s a common plant which is found throughout the Northern hemisphere on acidic soils.

Captain Cooks Monument on Easby Moor can be seen in the far distance.

Wild Orchid, Cliff Ridge Wood

I think this is the Common Spotted Orchid but my book says it prefers lime so I’m not sure. It seems happy growing in the disused whinstone quarry in Cliff Ridge Wood, a National Trust property at Great Ayton. It seems a perilous place to survive  kids making fires and burning anything they can get their hands on.

Celandine

One of the ideas I had for my daily photo was to record the seasonal changes in the woods and moors. But every time so far I have taken a nature photo I’ve come across something else more interesting.

Today was an active rest day. So just a wander around my local patch. In Newton Woods spring is definitely gathering pace. Stitchwort, Red Campion, Celandine, Wood Anemone and Dog Violet are all in flower, taking advantage of the sunlight reaching the wood floor. Buds on the oaks are just appearing so the leaves will be a just few weeks away.

So loads of pictures of flowers with this one of the Celandine as my favourite.

I’m sure you’ve heard of William Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils. What you may not know he also penned a poem about the Celandine.

To the Small Celandine

Pansies, lillies, kingcups, daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there’s a sun that sets,
Primroses will have their glory,
Long as there are violets,
They will have a place in story:
There is a flower that shall be mine,
‘T is the little Celandine.