Twelve people met at the Yorkshire Dales National Car Park, Aysgarth, on a cold, beautifully sunny morning. The group went into the wood and initially spent some time looking at the leaves of a Geum plant, trying to decide whether it was Geum rivale (Water Aven) or Geum urbanum ( Wood Aven) or the hybrid of the two, but no conclusion was reached but later in visit, flowers of Geum rivale were spotted just coming in to flower. At the beginning of the walk the predominant flowers were Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone) and Mercurialis perennis (Dog’s Mercury), the latter somewhat crowding out the Anemones in places.

Male (left) and female flowers of Dog’s Mercury

It was noticed that some of the areas of the wood had been fenced off which was to preserve the coppiced trees inside the fence, and also to keep rabbits and deer out. It was nice to see the two Strawberry plants in flower – Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry) with its small leaves, and sepals showing between the smaller petals, and Fragaria vesca (Wild Strawberry) with its bigger, greener leaves, and bigger flowers, with no gap between the petals. On entering a wooded area, planted in 1998, the vegetation changed, and plenty of Ficaria verna (Lesser celandine) was seen, looking splendid in the sunshine.

On a nearby hillside, where the group had lunch, clumps of Primula vulgaris (Primrose) were spotted, as well as our first orchid of the season Orchis mascula ( Early Purple Orchid), later in the walk Neotia ovata ( Common Twayblade) was seen.

Early Purple Orchid

Also on the hillside, a beautiful small, bright blue Myosotis ramosissima (Early Forget-me- not) was spotted growing near a spectacular patch of Aphanes arvensis (Parsley –piert) as well as Carex caryophyllea (Spring Sedge).

Early Forget-me-not


Spring Sedge

On the return path, above the falls, which were in full spate, violets were examined – Viola riviniana (Common Dog-violet , with its blunt, notched, pale spur and V. reichenbachia (Early Dog-violet) with its darkviolet, unnotched spur. It was nice to see Paris quadrifolia (Herb Paris) and Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) with its long racemes of flowers as the group returned to the car park.

Herb Paris


As we approached the car park a spike of Lathraea squamaria ( Toothwort) was spotted in the sunshine. During the day, the group was challenged with trying to identify plants, by their vegetative characteristics, and at the end of the visit over 80 species were seen during the visit. Some of the group enjoyed a drink and cake, in the sunshine, outside the Coppice café before setting off on the return journey.

Report: Jean Kendrew, Photos: Ian Hughes