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Botany Review - Autumn 2007

Most of our fortnightly meetings throughout the summer have been spent visiting sights of rare or decreasing species and updating our records accordingly. A few of our meetings are outline below.

Early in the year we visited the dunes at Les Carrières to look for Wild Asparagus but, although we saw a number of small, overwintering annuals which vary in amount from year to year. These included Hutchinsia, Early Sand-grass and Dwarf Pansy. We were also pleased to see plenty of rosette leaves of Early-purple Orchid which has been increasing steadily on the dunes over recent years as has the Green-veined Orchid.

Our next meeting was to a field in St Clement which the National Trust for Jersey now own and are in the process of restoring to grassland. Here we were pleased to see the Jersey orchid was increasing in numbers and spreading into previously farmed land.

A visit through Les Ormes Valley was a must to see if we could find Blue Fleabane as until a single plant was found last year, we had not seen it for over twenty years. However, we were not successful and so shall extend our search next year. A little light entertainment was provided by the sighting of a hedgehog and light refreshment in the form of the juiciest and sweetest of Blackberries. Carpets of Wild Thyme were spread out before us as we looked down to the sea.

We were fortunate to be given permission to visit Handois reservoir where on of our most exciting finds o the year presented itself. In a damp area close to the water we spotted a species of mint. Careful examination leads us to believe it is corn Mint, decidedly rare in the island and not recorded recently. Although its name suggests a dry situation it is also found in damp locations close to water.

We were delighted also to find a long stretch of Upright Hedge-parsley, again along the water's edge and, although this is not rare, it has certainly decreased over the years. A fungal find worthy of mention came in the form of several Boletus parasiticus on an earth ball and appearing as a small toadstool type fungus growing from the host.

Finally, a visit to the area close to the desalination plant where we noted a large area of Hottentot Fig which had colonised a slope where a fire had occurred. More pleasing were the number of Yellow-horned Poppy particularly the large numbers on the beach where also Sea Kale continues to flourish. On a cliff slope where water runs down we were able to confirm that Brookweed still occurs although in a rather overgrown situation.

With the evenings drawing in we will now be meeting indoors for the duration of the winter and anyone wishing to attend these informal meetings and joining us on next year's programme of field trips is most welcome.

Joan Banks

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