Dumfriesshire Botany Group at Powfoot, 4th August 2019

In fine and warm weather a group of 9 of us met at the car park at the western end of the village. Our objective was to record the square including the caravan site in the morning and, if the weather stayed reasonable (there was the risk of heavy rain), to record the square to the east of Powfoot.

Both squares include foreshore. In the morning this included saltmarsh and its transition to bare mud. In the afternoon the shore visited was sand and shingle with very little saltmarsh.

In the morning we saw a lot of the typical saltmarsh species. Among the frequently found things were Wild Onion Allium vineale with both bulbils and flowers in the inflorescence; Common Restharrow Ononis repens with stems hairy all round; Sand Sedge Carex arenaria demonstrating its rhizomatous habit by growing in lines across the sandy mud; Parsley Water-dropwort Oenathe lachenalii; Sea Rush Juncus maritimus with sharp stiff stems and the small round fruited Saltmarsh Rush Juncus gerardii.  It was good to find less common things like Seaside Centaury Centaurium littorale with narrow leaves and long calyx, Greater Sea-spurrey  Spegularia media with flying saucer seeds and the curious Hard-grass Parapholis strigosa with closely adpressed spikelets making the flowers look like a mini bamboo (very magnified).  On the bare mud Common Cord Grass Spartina anglica was forming clumps. It first occurred only around 1890 on the south coast of England and was first seen in Dumfriesshire only in 1976. It derives from a sterile hybrid Spartina x townsendii . When the chromosome number of this doubled it produced the fertile S. anglica which has now spread all around the English coast and the Scottish Solway coast but is as yet sporadic in other parts of Scotland.

We ventured from the back of the shore into the ruderal around the caravan park and arable fields behind. It was good to see plenty of Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis and two Fumitories, Common Ramping-fumitory Fumaria muralis ssp. boroei, with rather large flowers and sepals and Common Fumitory Fumaria officinalis ssp. officinalis, with small flowers and sepals.  A good find in the arable field was Scented Mayweed Matricaria chamomilla uncommon along the coast here. By lunch we had recorded 163 taxa.

Lunch was in the sun in the car park with lots of other coastal recreationists some with wind surf boards.

After lunch we headed east of the village. Here the coast is straight with a shingle beach backed by  a small areas of sand and a soft cliff. The interest here is in plants growing at or just above the strandline that are probably brought in as seeds in winter storms and plants in the eroding sandy cliff. We were able to admire a rosette of Yellow-horned Poppy Glaucium flavum just coming into flower. This plant had been seen a month earlier and is the first record for this species in Dumfriesshire since the 1886 Flora! There was plenty of Ray’s Knotgrass Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. rayii, a rather refined shoreline knotgrass, patches of Babington’s Orache Atriplex glabriscula with a silver mealiness, Sea Kale Crambe maritima and Prickly Saltwort Salsola kali but only right at the end of the walk did we find Sea Stock Cakile maritima, Wild Pansy Viola tricolour and Sheep’s-bit, Jasione montana.  In the afternoon we saw 128 taxa.


Chris Miles

BSBI county recorder for Dumfriesshire VC73 – see bsbi.org/dumfriesshire

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