Tees in springtime again

Jane Friesner DWT Botany Group, News

Jane Friesner reports

On Thursday 30th March, the DWT Botany Group travelled through rainbows and threatening rain clouds for a second trip to Gainford Spa, to observe the yellow star of Bethlehem flower, Gagea lutea.

Yellow star of Bethlehem flower, Gagea lutea (image: Stephen Goodhart)

We were not disappointed, as we saw a few fresh plants and some that were older, but it was a first for some of us and that was a great thrill. I did not realise that the blooms are umbels, the bracts were quite long and the leaf is hooded and has a trigonous tip.

There were other delights: a lot of pignut,  Conopodium majus, (which Ann pointed out were the ‘nuts of May’), sanicle leaves Sanicula europaea, and then we stood to admire the strange toothwort plant, Lathraea squamaria, a parasitic plant found today on hazel, Corylus avellana, 80 spikes were counted.

Toothwort plant, Lathraea squamaria  (image: Stephen Goodhart)

For botany beginners observing golden saxifrage both the alternate leaved and opposite leaved plant were present allowing for a comparison to be made – useful for future identification in cases where only one might be present.

Goldilocks buttercup leaves Ranunculus auricomus were emerging and we saw the clear differences between the basal leaves and the plant leaves.

Our senses were also used to smell sweet violet, Viola odorata, sweet cicely, Myrrhis odorata, sand leek, Allium scorodoprasum, but we could not smell the musk aroma of moschatel, Adoxa moschatellina (named townhall clock or Good Friday plant), apparently you need warm damp days, and conditions were near to this at times.

Moschatel, Adoxa moschatellina (image: Stephen Goodhart)

Is there a collective noun for Botanists? However, the seven in the group thoroughly enjoyed our morning visiting this interesting site. I am sure we are all looking forward to future delights in the Botany Group calendar. The total number of plants noted was 91, see Keith’s excellent list. Add Caltha palustris
, marsh marigold, which was in flower, but not spotted by Keith! Thank you to Stephen for the excellent photographs, these can also be seen on the Botany Group Facebook page.

There are many events coming up, including a 5 session drawing plants course – see the DWT Botany Group page for more details or email botany@durhamwt.co.uk