Dumfriesshire Botany Group at Brydekirk, 21st April 2024

The groups first outing of the year was based at Brydekirk on the River Annan. Seven of us met on the high street under cloudy but dry skies in reasonable temperatures. We explored the village street and around the houses near the bridge before following the Annandale way down river through woodland and grassland. We recorded in two monads during the day. This early in the season many plants are yet to develop but early woodland flowers were evident. The Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta were just coming into flower.

The first square NY1870 includes the village as well as a section of river bank and woodland. Brydekirk and its bridge is built from the local red sandstone and a natural outcrop could be seen in what was probably an old quarry in the woodland just south of the village. On the pavements by the currently closed Brig Inn there was a good show of Common Whitlowgrass Erophila verna alongside Hairy Bitter-cress Cardamine hirsuta showing its 4 stamens . Butterfly-bush Buddleja davidii had a foothold on the unused area at the side of the pub as had Londonpride Saxifraga x urbanum. The riverside was a mix of garden escapes and robust natives. There was Rock Crane’s-bill Gernanium macrorrhizum alongside the path and early growth of Reed-Sweet-grass Glyceria maxima and Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata on the river bank. On the grass verge we looked at Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna verna with its bulbils and later saw its fertile cousin Ficaria verna fertilis in the more undisturbed woodland. A small number of Winter-cress Barbarea vulgaris plants were growing on regularly sprayed ground by a utility compound. This was most notable for the extensive growth of the Common Liverwort Marchantia polymorpha.

Once we left the houses the river habitat and woodland becomes more natural and the deeply cleft petals of Wood Stichwort Stellaria nemorum were soon seen on the riverbank.

At this time of year just before the Wild Garlic Allium ursinum reaches full growth it is worth checking for other spring plants because it is hard to see them once it is fully out. Sure enough on the river bank under trees amongst much Opposite leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium we found the subtle flowers and leaves of Sanicle Sanicula europaea and the round crenulated leaves of Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata. Old woodland on riversides is a typical habitat for the Saxifrage in Dumfriesshire.

There is a short section between the first and second square that we were not going to record but we found a large patch of Ostrich Fern Matteuccia struthiopterisunfurling its fronds here. This non native from Europe had clearly been washed down stream to establish here rather than having been planted and we saw it again in our second square so this non native fern does seem to be spreading naturally.

The second square NY1969 has woodland along the riverside and on the bank above the path creating an attractive section of the walk. The woodland is mostly of native species though some coniferous and broadleaved underplanting has occurred. We had lunch on a log under the light spring canopy with Wych Elm Ulmus glabra and Guelder-rose Viburnum opulus amongst the trees and shrubs.

Here on the river bank there was more Meadow Saxifrage alongside another good old woodland indicator Goldilocks Buttercup Ranunculus auricomius. Interestingly this species is thought to be made up of many apomicts potentially being divided into many microspecies as on the continent. In Britain no satisfactory system has yet been agreed for these. Other old woodland plants included Wood Melic Melica uniflora just coming into flower, Upland Enchanter’s nightshade Circaea x intermedia and Wood Speedwell Veronica montana.

We reached the end of the square at a large shingle bank at the south end of an island in the river. This could not be reached due to the high flow of water. The shingle gave us Tansy Tanacetum vulgare and Feverfew Tancetum parthenium.

Total taxa recorded on the day were NY1870 117 and NY1969 159.

Chris Miles

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

BSBI logo

Website by Red Paint

SUP is registered in Scotland as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Registered address: The Southern Uplands Partnership, Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels, TD1 3PE. Company No. SC200827 / Charity No. SCO29475

Back to top