Crowtrees LNR, December 2018

I was glad to have hit on a bright winter afternoon for my final trip of the year round Crowtrees, especially after November’s gloom.  However, though it was dry, it was not warm!

There were still a surprising 25 species in flower, the same number as in November – testament to a relatively mild early winter.  It has to be said, though, that in many cases I was recording just one or two scruffy looking remnants of flowers, some of which were only just ‘open’.  Perhaps the only exception to this was gorse, where the few flowers currently open are just a harbinger of glories soon to come.

Gorse, Ulex europaeus, about to burst into bloom

The area around the ponds is as wet as I’ve ever seen it after some heavy rain and strong winds and the Exmoor ponies have again turned it into a morass, so I have to skirt round the back to rejoin my route.

The architecture of the whole site looks different with the last leaves now gone from the trees.  As I head up the hill though the shrubby woodland beyond the ponds, I spot Woodruff leaves, still green amongst the leaf litter.  Though I saw the delicate white flowers elsewhere this summer I didn’t spot them here – I’ll have to look harder next year!

Leaves of Woodruff, Galium odoratum

The few red and white clover flowers beside the path look very washed out now but vibrant, hot-pink Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum flowers still catch the eye.

Of the Apiaceae, it is not surprising to find Hogweed in bloom for the eighth consecutive month but Burnet-saxifrage still in flower is more unexpected. The Yellow-wort is also just hanging on – assuming these flowers count as ‘open’!


Yellow-wort, Blackstonia perfoliata

There are a few dead-nettles in bloom, both white and red, but otherwise many of the remaining species are Asteraceae – daisies, sow-thistles and dandelions, amongst others.  There are still a few hardy grasses in flower too, where road verges have been mown prompting a second flush.  The catkins on trees of the Birch family are a little closer to flowering than they were last month but even my wishful thinking wouldn’t describe them as open!

So, here is December’s list of plants in flower to be followed soon, I hope, by a blog summing up what I’ve learned about the botany of my patch this year.

Shepherd’s-purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.
Ribbed melilot Melilotus officinalis
Red clover Trifolium pratense
White clover Trifolium repens
Gorse Ulex europaeus
Petty spurge Euphorbia peplus
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Hogweed Heracleum spondylium
Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga
Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata
White dead-nettle Lamium album
Red dead-nettle Lamium purpureum
Common field speedwell Veronica persica
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Daisy Bellis perennis
Oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare
Pineappleweed Matricaria discoidea
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris
Prickly sow-thistle Sonchus asper
Smooth sow-thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Dandelion Taraxacum agg.
Scentless mayweed Tripleurospermum inodorum
Cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata
Meadow grass Poa sp.

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