London Meeting June 30th to 2nd July 2006

Onopordum acanthium Onopordum acanthium(Cotton Thistle)

Sisymbrium strictissimum Sisymbrium strictissimum(Perennial Rocket)

Buddleja globosa Buddleja globosa (Orange-ball Tree)

Verbascum lychnitis Verbascum lychnitis(White Mullein)

Galactites tomentosa Galactites tomentosa(Boar Thistle)

Rumex obtusifolius ssp transiens Rumex obtusifolius var transiens (Broad-leaved Dock)

30th June : Kew and Thames embankment

When I first noticed that the WFS ran meetings in London, I wondered what on earth anyone would find. After all this is one of the biggest cities in the world albeit with lots of park space. Parks generally aren't much good for WFS meetings because there's too much which has been obviously planted.

After being on a few meetings and talking to more experienced members it became obvious that not only was there a great deal growing genuinely wild within the boundaries of Greater London but it is one of the best places to hold a meeting to guarantee a long list filled with unusual plants.

Our meeting started in South London and we were to meet our leader Ron at Sutton Car Park. Car parks are often neglected by the local council's tidying squad so it's always a good idea to look round. I didn't have to look far because after switching off the car engine and looking out of the windscreen there, growing next to the fence was a fine young specimen of Onopordum acanthium in bud. Next to it grew many fine stands of Verbascum lychnitis (White Mullein) and this was before the meeting had officially started!

Parking is very difficult at most sites in London so we shared vehicles and at this point we should all give a big thank-you to Phil Budd who chauffeured us round in sometimes awful London traffic in his people carrier. Our first stop was a St Ann's Church near Kew gardens where the over grown churchyard is full of unusual botanical goodies including plenty of Sisymbrium strictissimum (Perennial Rocket) nearly all in fruit, Campanula persicifolia (Peach-leaved Bellflower), Phytolacca acinosa (Indian Pokeweed not in flower) and a single Galactities tomentosa (Boar Thistle) which is common enough on the continent but rarely seen here in the UK.

From here we walked to the Thames embankment where from the fence we could see large fruiting plants of Angelica archangelica (Garden Angelica) and what looked like an ordinary broad-leaved Dock. This was however the rare sub-species transiens although Stace insists this is only a variety, These vars (obtusifolius, transiens and microcarpa) are separated by the size of the tepals but since all the plants were growing in mud just above the Thames water line no-one volunteered to test the identification. Some things are best taken on trust.

Further on, living next to each other very conveniently were Buddleja davidii (Butterfly-bush), Buddleja globosa (Orange-ball Tree) and the hybrid Buddleja x weyeriana. Only the B. globosa had flowers but the three could be distinguished by their leaves. Also along this path we found Picris hieracioides (Hawkweed Ox-tongue), A Branchyglottis (Sunshine- old name Senecio greyii) well past its best and several rosettes of Aremonia agrimoniodes (Bastard Agrimony) in fruit only.