New Year Plant Hunt – Armagh

It’s that time of year again to dust off the wet gear and boots and head out searching for plants. The New Year Plant Hunt is a recording initiative run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) with an aim to record any plants which are in flower from the 1st -4th of January.

You can read up about my first day of fun, botanising in my home area of Donegal . The next trip on the list took myself and Mairéad across the border and into (eventually) Co. Armagh, where we would join up with BSBI President John Faulkner. We had great local knowledge on hand from those who turned up and learned some interesting facts about the sites we visited.

First on the list was the very wet Victoria Lock, most of the cars we met on this road were straddling the white line as the roads were quite flooded. When the recording started it was quite mild, very calm and not even raining, as can be seen by the picture below along the Newry canal.

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One of those images you could have upside down and not many would notice – Oisín Duffy

Hedgerows, cracks in pavement and small bits of disturbed ground where fencing had been put up were the best places to look in this location. The list for the area went as follows –

  • Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua)
  • Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg)
  • Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
  • Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
  • Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
  • Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium)
  • Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)
  • Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum agg)
  • Daisy (Bellis perennis)
  • Lesser Swine-cress (Coronopus didymus)
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BSBI President John Faulkner (with hand lens) – showing the group Lesser Swine-cress (Coronopus didymus) – Oisín Duffy

The next area on our list was a woodland site at Daisy Hill, it was here that we finally managed to get Ivy (Hedera helix) marked off the list. In Victoria Lock it had all gone over, but here there was still some nice displays of flowers.

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Ivy (Hedera helix) – Oisín Duffy

One of the highlights of the day (at least for me) was Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens), it was the first I had come across the species and it was quite a pretty little plant.

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Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens) – Oisín Duffy

The list for Daisy Hill ended up like this –

  • Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
  • Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua)
  • Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
  • Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg)
  • Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
  • Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
  • Wavy Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa)
  • Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
  • Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum agg)
  • Laurel
  • Cotoneaster sp
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
  • Lesser celandine (Ficaria verna)
  • Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium)
  • Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
  • Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens)
  • Wild Turnip (Brassica rapa)
  • Smooth Hawksbeard (Crepis capillaris)
  • Lesser stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)
  • Ivy (Hedera helix)
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Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.) – In flower at Daisy Hill – Oisín Duffy

Derrymore House added Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) to the list, while the beautiful Camlough added another 4 species, 3 grasses, Cock’s foot (Dactylis glomerata) Perennial Rye Grass (Lolium perenne) and Italian Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum) and one flower Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea).

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The beautifully calm Camlough, Co. Armagh – Oisín Duffy
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Some of the group looking at the differences between the two loliums. – Oisín Duffy
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Italian Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum) – Oisín Duffy

While on the way to finish the evening at Slieve Gullion we stopped for a few moments at an old quarry. This turned out to be a great decision as we added Bell Heather (Erica cinerea), Western Gorse (Ulex gallii), Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and one of my other favourites of the day Scentless Mayweed (Tripleurospermum inodorum).

While the Mayweed may have been scentless, the area certainly wasn’t as there was a group of feral goats clambering up the steep slopes.

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The quarry goats (doesn’t sound like a bad name for a band actually) – Oisín Duffy

We ended the day, slightly wet but extremely happy that we managed to record 38 plants in flower throughout the 3 hours of recording. It was great to do some cross border botany, especially in a county where I haven’t spent a great amount of time. Looking forward to revisiting some of these sites during the year if time allows.

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Some of the crowd from the our day botanising in Armagh. Myself (Centre and grinning manically) Therese from the Ring of Gullion (to my right) Mairéad (2nd from right) and BSBI President John Faulkner (far right).

I may get another post out during the week for any other plants myself and Mairéad record on the 4th (weather permitting).

Again, you can keep up to date with all my latest botanical finds by following me on twitter @OshDuffy


New Year Plant Hunt 2016 – Donegal

It’s that time of year again to dust off the wet gear and boots and head out searching for plants. The New Year Plant Hunt is a recording initiative run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) with an aim to record any plants which are in flower from the 1st -4th of January.

In 2015 I recorded the first plant of the year, a Daisy (Bellis perennis) just before 1 o’ clock in the morning. This year I managed to be even quicker off the mark (with the help of my recording partner Mairéad) by recording Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) and White Clover (Trifolium repens) just after the clock struck midnight!

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Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) photographed just after midnight – Oisín Duffy
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White Clover (Trifolium repens)  also photographed just after midnight- Oisín Duffy

The next morning myself and Mairéad set out around my local area – Argary, to find what was in flower. I had done a quick reccy of the circuit the week before so I knew exactly where to look for most of the species, which meant I could keep my eyes peeled for new species. The weather in Donegal (as with the rest of the country) has been incredibly wet and windy and a few of the plants which I had noted from the week before didn’t survive the storms. Daisy (Bellis perennis), Ivy (Hedera helix) and Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) were some of the first species on our list. Both Daisy and Herb-Robert are usual suspects for the plant hunt as they seem to happily grow throughout the entire year. Much of the Ivy had gone over, but some pockets of flowers remained and I’m sure the pollinators of the area appreciated it during the Winter. A very fresh looking Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) was next on the list and wasn’t far away from a rather sorry and battered looking Nipplewort (Lapsana communis).

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Ivy (Hedera helix) – Oisín Duffy

One of the surprises of the day was Red Campion (Silene dioica) and this was only found in one location throughout the whole day, in fact there was only 1 flower still hanging on.

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Red Campion (Silene dioica) – Oisín Duffy
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Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) – Flowering beautifully along Ardnasool Lane – Oisín Duffy

Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium) was in flower throughout most of the area, along with some other usual suspects, Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua) and Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), while others only occurred in one spot throughout the area Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.) and White Clover (Trifolium repens).

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A rather sad looking Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg.) – Oisín Duffy

Overall the amount of species was fairly good as many of the hedges had been cut in previous weeks and being the most North-West county also doesn’t give you any great advantages!

The complete and compiled list for the area looks like this –

Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua)
Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Bramble (Rubus fruiticosus agg)
Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium)
Cock’s Foot (Dactylis glomerata)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Dandelion (Taraxacum agg)
Gorse (Ulex europaeus)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
Ivy (Hedera helix)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
Red Campion (Silene dioica)
White Clover (Trifolium repens)

I’ll be following this up with a piece about our day recording in Co. Armagh with the BSBI president John Faulkner.

To keep up to date with any other find during the New Year Plant Hunt you can follow me @OshDuffy