A Polywhaddy?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I couldn’t have been the only person today thinking that a botany field trip on a grey day in the first week of March in the middle of the post-industrial, graffiti-riddled canals of Digbeth in Birmingham was going to be a total bust.  I must confess that unless you can eat them, or unless a bee is sitting on one, plants are just not my thing – but I had my little socks blown off today…  I had the great pleasure of tagging along (feeling like a bit of a gate crasher to be honest, I mean, do they even LET entomologists go to these things?) with the great Prof. Ian Trueman and the inspiring Mike Poulton on a botany walk around the canals & streets of Digbeth as part of the Wildlife Trust’s Improving Nature conference – a celebration of the ongoing Nature Improvement Area project.  The walk was just fantastic, and I saw several species I have never (knowingly) seen before…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe above photo is of a wall around the corner from the Bond, Digbeth, where the event was hosted.  The wall featured 4 different species of fern within the space of about 2 feet: Maidenhair Speedwort (Asplenium trichomanes), Intermediate Polypody (Polypodium interjectum), Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria) and Black Spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum)!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlong the canal wall, we also saw Hart’s Tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) – ‘hart’ being an old word for ‘deer’ – the leaf is long and unbranched and waxy-looking.  But even THIS was spectacular – as if you look at the photo above, you can see that the leaves are split like a forked tongue – called a ‘bifurcation’ – is very rare!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo next time someone asks you to go botanising in a seemingly desolate concrete jungle, set aside your preconceptions and you never know what you will find! (Provided you have a couple of awesome botanical geniuses with you!!!)

5 Replies to “A Polywhaddy?”

  1. The canals are fantastic aren’t they? Honoured to work for them to be quite honest and the chap on the left in the bottom picture is his name Barry cause I swear I went to college with him, if so ‘Hey Bazza! :P’

  2. I met Mike Poulton last summer while photographing Marbled White Butterflies. He told us about some rare plant on our local canal. A very interesting chat. We found the plant too a couple of days later. A nice man.

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