WFS Meeting Arnside and Silverdale April 15th 2006

Erica erigena Erica erigena on cliff (Irish Heath)

Petasites albus Petasites albus (White Butterbur N Wales in 2005)

Potentilla sterilis Potentilla sterilis (Barren strawberry)

Erica erigena close Erica erigena close(Irish Heath)

Adiantum capillus-veneris Adiantum capillus-veneris (Maidenhair Fern)

Chionodoxa forbesii Chionodoxa forbesii (Glory-of-the-snow)

Arnside promenade

This was one of the first meetings of 2006 a year which started with a very cold February and March and one which led to early Spring flowers being up to three weeks late. The forecast wasn't too optimistic for this meeting but then very few weather forecasts this Spring had been anything but gloomy. The date was Easter Saturday and this delightful part of North Lancashire can be very busy with visitors so an early arrival for car parking was essential.

Around 9.00 am the weather was perfect. There was hazy sunshine, a few dog walkers and hikers with the fishermen on the shore settling in for a days strenuous sitting down. A full complement of botanists soon arrived and our leader Julie Clarke checked that everyone expected was present. As is usual there was an absentee and we dutifully waited for 15 minutes but then set off on what turned out to be a truly marvellous day's botanising on the first true day of Spring.

We first set out along a path which is an extension of the promenade to see a couple of unusual plants. The first was high up, naturalised in the rocky cliffs and difficult to get close to but had been identified as Erica erigena (Irish Heath) which is native only on the west coast of Ireland but a popular early flowering garden heather. No doubt this one had escaped from nearby houses but was naturalised in such an inaccessible place that a few of us scrambled up the rock face to take photos.

The second plant was nearby and low down on the same cliffs. Known for some years at this site and now spreading Adiantum capillus-veneris (Maidenhair Fern) is another plant associated with the west of Ireland in the grykes of the Burren limestone pavement.

Further along the path we found some probable relics of an ancient garden with superb clump of Chionodoxa forbesii (Glory-of-the-snow) and by a wall some very healthy looking Potentilla sterilis (Barren Strawberry).

In the shade of the trees there were a few very sad looking white florets on the last of the Petasites albus (White Butterbur). This is usually a very early flowering plant with the main crop as early as February or March but in this cold year WFS dairy fillers were able to see the very last of this plant three or four weeks after it has usually completely finished flowering. The photo here is a Petasites albus in its prime as our specimens were the least photogenic of all the plants seen at the meeting.