From the Green-winged Orchid Anacamptis morio on the Glebe field at Wensley, the Alpine Pennycress Noccaea caerulescens at Ballowfield, the abundance of Cowslips Primula veris and Early Purple Orchids Orchis mascula on the Dales Way, Birdseye Primrose P.farinosa and Common Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris at Lythe Flush on the Wharfe, Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia and the beginnings of Melancholy Thistle Cirsium heterophyllum in Skoska Wood, Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta in Grass Wood, roadsides frothy with Sweet Cicely Myrrhis odorata, there is so much colour in so many different places to delight the eye of all botanists, and to test the memory!

The first meeting of the Botany Group was scheduled for Tuesday 25th May to Leyburn Old Glebe near Wensley in Wensleydale, a small remaining field of an area know to naturulists since early in the 19th century and after the cancellation of the Bird Group on the previous Thursday due to dreadful weather, the anxiety levels were high regarding the weather for Tuesday. However having travelled up Wharfedale in heavy showers the sun shone in Wensleydale when 11 enthusiasts met for the first time in 2 years. The leader had been a bit anxious about how everyone would feel about distancing but the worry was needless as everyone as usual did ‘their own thing’ in small groups or on their own. As seen in the opening photographs Ian Hughes has captured the lovely large group of the Green-winged Orchid and Cowslips and due to a small creature having nibbled off the stem and flower of one of the Orchids everyone was able to see the green lines on the inner surface of the arching sepals of the flowers. Lunch was taken in the sunshine and the rest of the field explored when several clumps of Common Twayblade Neottia ovata were noted. 47 species were recorded including Common Milkwort Polygala vulgaris, Yellow-rattle Rhinanthus minor, Salad Burnet Poterium sanguisorba ssp sanguisorba, and Bulbous Buttercup Ranunculus bulbosus.

Driving on to our second site, the weather deteriorated to quite heavy showers, and Pam Rutherford’s report is below.

Ballowfield 25th May 2021

Eleven members visited Ballowfield Local Nature Reserve which lies between Askrigg and Carperby in Wensleydale.

It’s an area of Special Conservation situated across both sides of Eller Beck growing up on the remains of old lead mining tips over hundreds of years. Here only metal tolerant plants known as metallophyles can grow,

Thrift Armeria maritima was found by the beck side along with Spring Sandwort Sabulina verna, this being used by miners as an indicator of a lead vein beneath the surface.

On our last visit in 2018 several plants of Moonwort Botrychium lunaria were located near the beck. Sadly this time none could be found. We did notice the bank had fallen away in places.

Alpine Penny-cress and Pyrenean Scurvygrass

Alpine Penny-cress Noccaea caerulescens, with it’s distinctive purple anthers, was found in clumps near the beck along with a few small plants of Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris. Wateravens Geum rivale were rather stunted probably due to the unusually dry April. However Pyrenean Scurvygrass Cochlearia pyrenaica thrived in the damper areas along with rather too much Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria.

Heavy rain then prompted us to return to the shelter of our cars.

Pam Rutherford

To the delight of one of the members who has a particular interest in Alpine plants, the uncommon Spring Cinquefoil Potentilla neumanniana was refound on rocky ledges near Ghaistrill’s Strid on the Wharfe. He has written and had published a book on Alpine plants in the Yorkshire Dales.


Spring Cinquefoil

Not so far away and on the Dales Way part of Grassington Moor, the abundance of Cowslips and many Early Purple Orchids was stunning. Lovely patches of  white Spring Sandwort Sabulina verna yellow Mountain Pansy Viola lutea, blue Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys all added to the very colourful and fulfilling experience.

Spring Sandwort and Germander Speedwell

Our next Botany Meeting is to the Malham area around the Water Sinks car park, a good contrast to the Glebe field and Ballowfield

Mountain Pansy

Christine Bell.

Photos Introductory and Alpine Penny-cress Ian Hughes. Others Christine Bell.