First Hunt 2007

gagea lutea

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem
Gagea lutea
2nd March 2007

galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis
2nd March 2007

bellis perennis

Bellis perennis
2nd March 2007

cardamine sp

Cardamine sp
2nd March 2007

lamium purpureum

Red Dead-nettle
Lamium purpureum
2nd March 2007

veronica  persica

Common Field-speedwell
Veronica persica
2nd March 2007

viola odorata (blue)

Sweet Violet
Viola odorata
7th March 2007

viola odorata (white)

Sweet Violet
Viola odorata
7th March 2007

corylus avellana

Hazel Catkins
Corylus avellana
7th March 2007

Arbutus unedo

Stawberry Tree
Arbutus unedo
7th March 2007

What is the First Hunt?

The Wild Flower Society encourages its members to look for wild flowers in the first week of March in any year, compile a list of flowers seen and to send the list to be published in the Wild Flower Magazine. The rules are, on paper quite simple:

Like all rules of course they are open to some interpretation.

For instance when is a flower counted as open? The answer is that you need a glimpse of the anthers or stigma so a flower which is has a closed bud even if it's showing plenty of colour can't really be counted.

What is meant by wild? The answer to this really does depend on different interpretations because garden plants often escape into wild areas and can be therefore be deemed to be naturaralised. But how far away must they be to be genuinely naturalised or wild and how long must they have been naturalised for them to be part of our flora?

The great advantage of taking part in these WFS competitions is that it makes you observe what you see in the countryside more closely and starts you on the path to be able to identify the usual wild flowers. It takes time of course but there is no substitute for practice and the various meetings devised by the W.F.S. are designed to be enjoyable and help people to become familiar with our wild flowers. (This includes grasses, rushes trees and ferns as well as ordinary flowering plants).

The data provided by our first week hunt lists has even been found to be useful to researchers trying to find sceintific evidence about whether Spring is really arriving earlier or not each year.

This is an account with photos of a first hunt conducted according to the Wild Flower Society's rules. In it I will say why some flowering plants were put on the list and some not.

South Cheshire 2nd March 2007

This first trip was part first hunt and part phenology. A friend had reported that Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea lutea) was in flower in mid February which is very early for this species. The expected flowering period for this would normally begin about 5th to 10th March. Sure enough the plants were in full flower and had clearly been in bloom for a week ot two. Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) grew nearby but were past their best. Typical wayside weeds like Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum), Daisy (Bellis perennis), an unidentified Bittercress (Cardamine sp) and Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica) were also in bloom but these plants aren't time-of-year (light?) dependent - they will flower in the depths of winter in mild weather.

The Great Orme 7th March 2007

There was no chance to do any further botanising in the rest of the week because of weather, poor light (for photography) and other commitments but on the last day of the First Hunt I made a trip to one of the best British sites for wild flowers - The Great Orme (near Llandudno). On 2nd of February when I visited the Orme hoping for some signs of and early Spring very little was in flower but a month later and thngs had changed quite a bit.

The Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) is one of the first flowers to show and apart from the scent (which I can never detect), flowers in various shades the two commonest being white and blue. The patch-forming large serrated kidney-shaped leaves are quite different from many other common wayside violets.

Hazel (Corylus avellana) is one of the first spring flowers to show in any year and most were finished here but on this tree just a few remained intact. Nearby a Strawbery tree (Arbutus unedo) was in fruit and beginning to turn the red colour which will make them look like strawberries. Although properly identified I couldn't count this though because there were no flowers.