Now, I’m pretty much a card-carrying, Non-Botanist (although plants do make a nice place to sit if you are a bee or a beetle!) but I had a fab time on the BCSNats Heathland Plants course last week, taught by my good friend Mark from Arvensis Ecology, who is pretty much a rock star when it comes to teaching entomologists about plants!
I was sort of blown away by the fact that there are, for example, male and female sheep’s sorrel (above)! We looked at a load of different heathland plant species (which is kind of weird for me as I’m usually looking for lizards and bees on heathlands – its nice to focus on something different and broaden my horizons!) including cross-leaved heath (pictured below with ling/heather, beneath it).
From grasses to rushes, bedstraws to broom, we looked at the reproductive features, key identifying traits, and were even brave enough to put a few of them through Poland’s Vegetative Key. (If you’re going to give botanising a go, there’s a couple of things you’ll need: First is a decent field guide – and the general concensus is that the best all-rounder is the Wildflower Key by Rose, and you’ll also need a 10 or, preferably, 20x hand lens – you can pick up a decent one of these for around £10-15.)
I’m now even more excited to get back out onto the heaths, as all my bees and reptiles seem to be more into context now. Its not all heather and grass up there on the commons! And just to show you that I’m the real Morgan and not some plant-loving alien surrogate, here’s a little ground hopper (Tetrix undulata) for you…
If this has whetted your appetite for a bit of heathland wildlife, then please come along to the Meet the Species event on Brownhills Common tomorrow at 10! Here’s the flyer: