April 30th was our first meeting of the season. We went to Strid Wood and had a most enjoyable day. We were blessed with lovely sunshine and the wood was looking its best with the fresh green of the Beech Fagus sylvatica, and the strong blue of the Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta. There were 13 of us including two new members which is always encouraging and we set off to walk over the footbridge to the sunny side of the river. Some stayed quite a time on the bridge, looking down on to the bank and identifying what they could, but gradually we spread out into smaller groups, seeing many of the early common plants including Sweet Cicely Myrrhis odorata, very common on the Dales roadsides but not seen in some parts of the country. Many plants were identified by their leaves but the Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca was in full flower. Early on someone spotted the Few-flowered Leek Allium paradoxum, just going over but quite recognisable. As we came to the end of the open pasture, we noticed the Beech flowers  and were very pleased to find Sanicle Sanicula europaea, an untypical member of the Umbellifer family.

Of course there were sheets of Bluebells, sometimes with the white of the Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea and lots of Red Campion Silene dioica. We saw a less common Stitchwort along the path Wood Stitchwort St.nemorum.

The steep banks opposite the river are rich in the common ferns, but someone’s keen eyes spotted a less common one Soft Shield Fern Polystichum setiferum. One of the most common plants on the steep banks on both sides of the river is the Greater Woodrush, Luzula sylvatica and the less common Hairy Woodrush L. pilosa.

One of the best finds of the day were the lovely delicate Grasses, Mountain Melick Melica nutans and Wood Melick M.uniflora, growing quite close together so the differences could be seen.When we got to the steep path which leads up to the shelter, we decided to turn back and arrived back at the Cavendish to enjoy refreshments and chat.

Photos Ian Hughes – Beech Flowers, Sanicle, Red Campion, Mountain Melick, Wood Stitchwort, Wood Melick, Soft Shield Fern

Christine Bell