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Botany Report 2014

by Gill Smith

2014 had a remarkably mild start, with plenty of sunshine in Ryedale. Snowdrops more or less fully out by 1 Feb.and at their best ~24th Feb. First daffodils out at Terrington 3rd March.

White and purple sweet violets flowering nicely near Whitwell by 12th March. Blackthorn out by ~9th April, wild cherry and plum opening. Moschatel flowering well by 10th. 24 April both golden saxifrages flowering together neari Hovingham, but no sign of the greater chickweed.

I counted 24 early purple orchids on the roadside just south of Gilling with a few hybrid oxlips nearby. Herb Paris doing very well in Gilling with 50+ plants. The baneberry was weak though, with one plant of the three broken/eaten probably by deer, only one showing flowers, and that only one spike. Not doing too well at Ashberry either on E side of the road, but the plants on the W strong and healthy (though again only 1 flower spike).

As a result of some wet weather all the roadside vegetation grew incredibly tall and lush. Southern marsh orchids at Castle Howard Arboretum were spectacular 11 June. Horseradish on a roadside verge at Whitwell produced a flower spike – the first I can remember seeing.

Bee orchids – a small colony in a clearing in Gilling woods that I have been watching for a few years produced 13 spikes this year (some very tiny with only one flower), the highest so far.

In late June-early July something very nasty affecting willows around Gilling, notably goat willow – a combination of rust and beetle attack meant many trees looked dead by mid-July although some at least tried to put out new shoots. It will be interesting to see how these trees and bushes survive the winter. Mid-late July had perfect summer weather. A plant of welted thistle found near Gilling in a field edge (SE6276) on 20th July. There was almost no yellow balsam this year - just one or two very small plants, that did not flower. I think this is because the site has become overgrown again.

It was a poor acorn year (though good for beech mast, hazelnuts, plums, and some brambles) – but plenty of knopper galls. Numerous haws. The end of October-mid November was remarkably warm, and quite wet. Poor autumn colours as no frost.

On the Ryenats’ trip to Raindale on 11 May it was great to re-find Pyrola (P. media) on the exact spot where it had been seen 50 years before by Gordon Simpson – he also showed us dwarf willow, which is an unusual plant in this area.

I received some very interesting records:

Some AONB 2014 Records from Bill Thompson

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