US social scientist Kenneth Boulding : ‘If you believe exponential growth can go on in a finite world, you are either a madman or an economist’.

Friday, 29 May 2009

29/5/09: At home on Erith Rd hill

Here are some plants to be found up the hill from Barnehurst to Northumberland Heath:

Bracken growing out of the retaining wall on the east side.

This picture of Buck's-horn Plantain (Plantago coronopus), often seen in local grass verges, exhibits its form better when seen here growing in the wall.

Knotted Hedge-Parsley (Torilis nodosa), the small ferny-leaved umbellifer in the photo above, occurs in the grass above the retaining wall where a 'slip road' provides access to houses continuing on the level. This is the first place I've found it within Bexley Borough.

Several Gorse (Ulex europaeus) under the tree canopy point to a sandy heathland past. If some of the Sycamores here were removed and the Gorse allowed to flourish, there would be a golden hillside welcoming people travelling through the area in the spring. In fact Bexley Council's Heathland Biodiversity Action Plan says that even the smallest scrap of remaining heathland is important so should be conserved and restored ......

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Not so common Blues in Barnehurst

The two Blues found in Barnehurst are the Holly Blue and Common Blue. Neither is abundant.

Holly Blues tend to appear one at a time, and generally fly higher than Common Blues, sometimes re-tracing particular 'circuits' of shrubbery.

Holly Blue on Camellia in my Barnehurst garden, 19th May

The Common Blue is a bit more gregarious. Numbers on an allotment site in Barnehurst - never high - appear to have been very poor last year, though I wasn't around so much.

On the day of the mating pictured below, three were seen at once on the most favourable plot, flying about randomly at about 4' off the ground. The favoured nectaring plant was Geranium pyrenaicum (white-flowered form).

Common Blues mating in a Barnehurst allotment, 22nd May

A few days later I had this female in my garden, pictured at rest on the purple-leaved cultivar of culinary Sage.

Female Common Blue in my back garden, 28th May

If Common Blue caterpillars do develop in this area, Black Medick is likely to be the main foodplant.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

7/5/2009: Back alley Botany in Bexley (1)

Here's a selection of the less frequent plants from the alleyways behind Northumberland Park, Horsa Rd and Hengist Rd., Northumberland Heath, Bexley - alleyways my friend and I used to roam and ride our bikes around in the far-off 1970s ......

For the budding botanist looking for unusual stuff, and who doesn't want to drive to a nature reserve to find rarities, local back alleyways can throw up some interesting surprises.

Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus) - tends to be found as isolated individuals here and there, but there are a large number of plants in the alley off the north side of Northumberland Park (and near the clubhouse at Barnehurst golf course)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is garden escape that is found, most often as a single plant, reasonably frequently in this part of the Borough

Fortunately, Japanese Knotweed isn't too prevalent here.

Caper Spurge (Euphorbia lathyrus), a biennial probably native in the south and a garden escape elsewhere. Uncommon.

This Ribes turned out to be a Redcurrant, flanked by Blackcurrants, no doubt planted.

The Hop (Humulus lupulus) is often found in back alleys in the North Heath to Bexleyheath area, and along the Bexleyheath railway line.

Spotted Medick (Medicago arabica) is frequent in Barnehurst verges and other local areas where grass is kept short, but is not usually found in alleyways.

A very strongly-marked White Clover is an attractive sight.

The Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) self-seeds freely in my sandy Barnehurst garden, but this is the first garden 'escapee' I've found.

It will be noted that a reasonable knowledge of garden flora is an advantage in surveying such habitats!