Monday, June 11, 2012

Ash and trailing tormentil

A kind of spring clean after a period of semi-neglect (which Emthree is quite happy with: it looks after itself to a degree).  I spent half an hour cutting back the new bines, nettles and fern in Brambly Hedge noting that everything is now growing very fast during this cool wet period after the May heatwave.

Many of the small plants I have become familiar with over the years are flowering, with heath speedwell, Veronica officinalis, doing particularly well, especially where the soil is poor and dry – on top of the meadow ants’ nest for example.

The ash tree by Hazel Edge has recovered from the severe pruning by rabbits over the winter and is now nearly one metre tall. The young leaves at the highest point are an attractive treacly maroon colour.

20120610 Metre young ash leaves (4)

The yellow potentilla has come into flower again (see picture below) and I also have a plant from Emthree cultivated in a pot. I have little doubt that it is trailing tormentil, Potentilla anglica, though I will need to wait until I have some ripe seed heads to be absolutely sure. Rich & Jermy in The Plant Crib (BSBI, 1996) say: “P. anglica and its hybrids, P. x mixta Nolte ex Rchb. (P. anglica x P. reptans) and P. x suberecta Zimmeter (P. anglica x P. erecta), are extremely difficult to distinguish from one another.” Also the hybrid P. x mixta is commoner than pure P. anglica. One additional clue I have is that last year I found a yellow rust on the leaves of the potentilla in Emthree and this turned out to be the rather scarce Phragmidium potentillae which, according to Ellis & Ellis (1985) has only been found on Potentilla anglica and P. tabernaemontani. The second of these, spring cinquefoil, is a rare plant in Sussex and has only been recorded from one or two sites well outside our area. It also flowers much earlier than the others.  The rust seems to be a first record for East Sussex.

20080606 Metre Potentilla reptans 004

Tomorrow I might prune some of the smaller trees - the hornbeam, the second birch – into one metre tall cordons.