I have taken an interest in the wild flowers of my surroundings in Langley since it became my base when my parents moved here (back to within a few miles of where they met and married in the village of Iver) in 1980. I spent a lot of time away during the 1980s, firstly as a police officer for the Hertfordshire Constabulary, then undertaking plant surveys in Wales. I was asked to compile a list of plants at the then Old Slade Lane Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Richings Park by its warden Bill Watkin-Williams and encouraged two local ladies to record the flowers in St.Peter's church, Iver towards a survey of churchyards in Buckinghamshire being undertaken by Roy Maycock (now Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland) vice-county recorder for the county). I was briefly a salesman in the then 'Tree & Shrub' department of the local Garden Centre, part-time bar-man and part-time gardener, before turning freelance as a lecturer, botanist and seeds man, establishing Chadwell Seeds in 1984.  Many expeditions to the Himalaya followed, with my focus very much on Himalayan flora. It is only during the past few years that the opportunity to study British plants again has arisen, since ill-health and new rules & regulations mean my expeditions to the Himalaya are no more.  I am amazed at just how much more detail today's modest digital cameras bring compared to what was possible photographically back in the early 1980s - not that I was much of a photographer back then. I relied heavily on a x10 hand lens to check, when it was necessary to examine plants more closely to distinguish between similar species, which could not readily be told apart using the naked eye.  I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a small number of the numerous images I now take. Though serious ill-health meant I took few photos during 2017. Thankfully, I seem to be bouncing back.... Why not get any general-interest clubs and societies you are a member of, to book me to speak to them on the 'Wild Flowers of Iver & District' or 'Wild Flowers of Britain' (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/topics-fees-expenses)

Slough, 16th May 2018 - corn salad

'COMMON CORNSALAD' or 'LAMB'S LETTUCE' (Valerianella locusta) - a native annual found on arable land, hedgebanks and roadsides. May be eaten as a salad, though certainly not if gathered from the roadside! Its flowers are tiny being white to purple according to Phillips, whereas 'Flora of the British Isles' say pale lilac, which fits with the photo above. © Chris Chadwell

Opposite upper leaves. The leaves of this plant are entire or sometimes dentate, the lower are spathulate, the upper oblong - non of the British floras I have looked through mentioned the characteristics of the upper surface seen in the image above. the most they do is mention the upper surface being slightly pubescent. Strangely, not even 'The Vegetative Key to the British Flora' mentions what I can see here, despite a very detailed description for the genus including mention of hydathodes. I certainly would not describe the above foliage as being bright green on the upper surface. Perhaps its an adaptation for living on Slough's streets or curry powder? Perhaps I have misidentified the plant?  Do let me know, if you think so. I am particular about accurate/correct information on my web-sites, as any true scientists must be and especially in my case, as I am publicly critical of others publishing false information! © Chris Chadwell

According to 'A checklist of the Plants of Buckinghamshire' (which I thoroughly recommend) this is uncommon in the this county (Slough previously was part of Bucks and is still considered to be so within botanical publications; administratively, it is now included within East Berkshire, though the border with S.Bucks is very close), it is found in dry, open places and on walls. I suspect this assessment does apply to North Bucks, where almost all the active field-botanists live.  According to the vice-county recorded for the county, I am the only active field botanist in S.Bucks; there used to be one, who actually lived in the next street in Langley, who compiled the record sheets for Slough, Langley & Iver for the 2000 BSBI Atlas.  Valerianella carinata is also recorded by Maycock & Woods (the authors of the above checklist) as uncommon in the county.  I have never knowingly come across this but according to both the 'old' British Flora I used when I began taking a serious interest in floras, as I began my botany degree (some 40 years ago) and the 'New' flora, only distinguish them on the basis of fruit characteristics.  The Bucks checklist gives identical habitat for both species, whereas the 'old' flora has banks & rocky outcrops for V.carinata. Druce in 'Flora of Buckinghamshire' (1926), knew the common Corn Salad under the name Valerianella  olitoria, as rather common and widely distributed, but absent from considerable stretches of the northern clay areas. Interestingly, he did not record V.carinata from the county at all!  As he was an exceptionally active field-botanist, this means either he was not aware of how to distinguish the latter from what is now V.locusta or had a different opinion to present-day botanists.....  Druce recorded Valerianella dentata as not uncommon in cultivated fields plus V.rimosa as very local and rare.  Nowadays both of these species are classified as Endangered.  The reason for this is loss of habitat, not in the sense of 'wild' places but cornfields, presumably those cultivated in similar ways to Druce's day i.e. no pesticides, herbicides, weed-free grain etc. At least they are native plants. © Chris Chadwell

This shot shows the habit of the plant well, along with its habitat (the photo immediately above is an even better image of its habitat - as it grows in Slough, at least).  I am a passionate field-botanist and one who studies check-lists and floras (indeed compiling some of my own both within the UK and the Himalaya) but I question the value of dry, species lists alone - as they are of limited usage, especially as one cannot always trust their reliability.  Additional information about distribution, abundance or rarity and ecological preferences, is invaluable and this helps helps one assess the reliability of the list or flora.  Clearly, V.locusta inhabits path/roadsides in Slough.  IF V.carinata does not, then one has no reason to look out for it or return to inspect the fruits to check.  Being annuals, these plants are not always prominent and may have not re-grown in the immediate vicinity the next year. © Chris Chadwell

Taplow Railway Station, 27th April 2018 - blue-bells, bulbous buttercups, bird-cherries

I arrived early at the station, where I was due to be collected to be taken to deliver a digital presentation on 'Wild Flowers of South Buckinghamshire' to Dorney Horticultural Society; particular reference was paid to the species recorded at Dorney & Dorney Wood a century earlier in Druce's 'Flora of Buckinghamshire'. I realise that Taplow does not really count as part of Iver & District (though is not far away, barely further than Windsor or Eton which have been included in this blog) and could have instead been placed in my 'UK Travel Blog' but I am largely reserving that for content which has images of places rather than just plants. The south side of the station was a building site, so I wandered down to the road, locating firstly a shaded area with buttercups and blue-bells (one must take care that whilst the 'bluebells' one often sees at road-sides and in urban settings may brighten up the spring, they are often not true wild plants but in fact hybrids with the 'Spanish Bluebells' which are often grown in gardens).  Whilst the planting of wild flowers is to be encouraged, one should try and ensure that they are genuine 'wild' species (whether they are purchased as seed or plugs). For further information about 'bluebells' in the UK see the1st May & 30th march 2016 entries below (just scroll down).

Bluebells growing close to Taplow Railway Station © Chris Chadwell

'Bulbous Buttercup' (Ranunculus bulbosus) - grew in the habitat above.  Could be mistaken for R.acris, the 'Meadow Buttercup', perhaps R.repens 'Creeping Buttercup' (which is distinguished by its creeping stems, as its name suggests; this does not normally flower until May onwards).  Druce, a century ago, found this very common in meadows and pastures throughout Buckinghamshire, preferring sunny situations and friable soil. Further back in this blog, you will see that I found this in Langley, having walked passed a colony numerous times before examining it closely enough to distinguish it - which I suspect is the case for many others. We learn to recognise buttercups as children, so tend to not bother working out which ones are which; the genus is also not straightforward identification-wise, showing a good deal of variation, leading to confusion as to identity. I also found it in a churchyard at Marlow, also in Bucks.  When in flower, this species is readily distinguished by its reflexed sepals (which cannot be seen in the above photo - which illustrates an important point when attempting to reliably identify plants solely using single, especially non-close-up, images published in books, as they often do not show diagnostic characteristics; 'matching' with such photos can work for common, distinctive plants but not in the majority of cases, leading to frequent misidentifications - I continue to struggle to decide on some British species, despite having spent some 50 years interested in naming plants!                © Chris Chadwell

Upper surface of basal leaf of 'Bulbous Buttercup' (Ranunculus bulbosus) - the middle leaflet long-stalked, he laterals short-stalked. © Chris Chadwell

Lower surface of basal leaf of 'Bulbous Buttercup' (Ranunculus bulbosus) © Chris Chadwell

'Bird-cherry' (Prunus padus) is rare in the wild in Buckinghamshire;  planted as hedging and specimen trees in urban areas. Druce, a century ago, knew this as a small, planted tree, flowering in May, recorded in a hedge at Colnbrook, observing it was probably also in Middlesex.  I have come across this in the NW Himalaya - Druce thought this to be an alien, whereas 'Flora of the British Isles' considered it to be a native.  According to Crawley in 'Flora of Berkshire' (2005) it is not native in Berkshire and nowhere properly naturalised, occasionally planted in woodland and shrubberies, rarely in hedgerows, often mistaken for the 'Rum or Black Cherry' (Prunus serotina) which also has flowers in elongate racemes but P.padus has larger petals © Chris Chadwell

Flower with obovate, irregularly white petals. © Chris Chadwell

 It is always worth examining the underside/surface of flowers and foliage; in this case  at the top of the raceme has a colony of aphids. They are not 'Leaf Curl Aphids' (Myzus cerasi) which attacks 'Wild Cherry' (Prunus avium) © Chris Chadwell

At present I cannot readily work which aphid or other creature it is.  Can anyone tell me?  I have just come across a promising site and plan to consult the person with expertise who writes it. © Chris Chadwell


Langley Village, 10th April 2018 - daisies

'Daisy' (Bellis perennis) is very common in short grassland such as lawns © Chris Chadwell

'Daisy' (Bellis perennis) showing numerous ray florets within the flower-head - these are not petals © Chris Chadwell

'Daisy' (Bellis perennis) showing basal rosettes of leaves; Stewart in 'An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Pakistan & Kashmir, noted that this plant was cultivated in gardens (cultivars), which had naturalised in Baluchistan, the Murree Hills and probably elsewhere.  efloraofIndia has images from Naini Tal golf-course, which seem to match this species.  According to 'Flora of the British Isles' (1962) it was found in Europe & Western Asia and no doubt naturalised by now in other places © Chris Chadwell


Langley towards Richings Park, 31st March 2018 - blackthorn, spear thistle, lesser burdock, goat willow

'Blackthorn' (Prunus spinosa) is very common in hedgerows and woods in Buckinghamshire. © Chris Chadwell

Also known as 'Sloe' - flowers appearing before the leaves. © Chris Chadwell

Petals pure white. © Chris Chadwell

Flower-buds opening, exposing stamens and styles. © Chris Chadwell

'Spear Thistle' (Cirsium vulgare) - very common in rank grassland, waste places & roadsides in Buckinghamshire. © Chris Chadwell

Basal leaves deeply pinnatifid, lobes and teeth tipped with long stout spines.  © Chris Chadwell

'Hemlock' (Conium maculatum) - dry white previous year's stems with growth of young foliage; common by rivers, canals, ditches & roadsides, prominent at side of M4 motorway near Exit 5 (for Langley).  © Chris Chadwell

The dried 'burs' of 'Lesser Burdock' (Arctium minus) from the previous years fruiting.  © Chris Chadwell

Lesser Burdock is common in woods, hedgerows & waysides in Buckinghamshire.  © Chris Chadwell

Very variable - distinguished from the less common 'Great Burdock' by its hollow petioles (at least at base).  © Chris Chadwell

Catkins of a Willow (Salix sp.) coming into flower - willows can be difficult to identify.  © Chris Chadwell

These are female catkins - probably of 'Goat Willow' (Salix caprea) - common in woods, hedges & by water © Chris Chadwell

I am not certain that these catkins belong to this species but will check foliage later in year to help confirm my suggested identification © Chris Chadwell


Langley High Street, 26th June 2016

I had noticed this eye-catching plant on the front lawn of some flats in the road I live in a few years ago, so was glad to come across it in the same habitat on the main 'High Street' of Langley where I live, thus having the opportunity to photograph it this time - and in better close-up than was possible with my pre-digital cameras.  Despite its urban environment and being a garden escape, one should still rate highly the orange-brown to brick-red ligules of  'Fox & Cubs', as it is commonly known.  Maycock & Woods (2005)  record PILOSELLA  AURANTIACA as rare in Buckinghamshire on lawns & in waste places.
© Chris Chadwell

Previously known as HIERACEUM  AURANTIACUM, the genus PILOSELLA (known as Mouse-ear-hawkweeds) is now separated from the genus HIERACIUM (Hawkweeds) but is considered doubtfully distinct.  I certainly immediately thought I had come across a colourful hawkweed when I spotted this.  Druce (1926) knew this as H.AURANTIACUM, an alien garden escape from Europe but only in the Ouzel and Thames valleys (the latter from near Hughenden). © Chris Chadwell

I recollect a parent at my sons' primary school in Langley getting in a state about having seen 'Deadly Nightshade' growing in the hedging of the perimeter fence. The Headteacher, knowing my botanical expertise, consulted me.  I was able to assure her that it was in fact 'Woody Nightshade' or 'Bittersweet' (SOLANUM  DULCAMARA) - which is very common in woods, hedges and watersides (Maycock & Woods, 2005).  I have in fact seen 'Deadly Nightshade' (ATROPA  BELLADONA) locally (in Burnham), which though belonging to the same family (Solanaceae), is quite distinct, with lurid violet or greenish flowers, then black berries - so not possibly confused by anyone with even a basic understanding of botany! © Chris Chadwell

Corollas purple or very rarely white © Chris Chadwell

The calyx has broad, shallow, rounded lobes - the corolla lobes 3-4 times as long as the calyx © Chris Chadwell

Young green, ovoid fruits which turn red as they mature - the berries of this plant have been revered for thousands of years; apparently a necklace of them was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. © Chris Chadwell

'Large Bindweed' (CALYSTEGIA  SILVATICA) rampant over a hedge in front of some flats © Chris Chadwell

Maycock & Woods (2005) record this as scarce in hedges & waste places, often near habitation; Druce (1926) did not record this species - being an introduction, it may not have been in Buckinghamshire at the time or perhaps he did not notice it, assuming it to be a variant of 'Great Bindweed' then under VOLVULUS  SEPIUM?  Within 'Flora of the British Isles' (1962) it was considered only to be a subspecies within CALYSTEGIA  SEPIUM but widely naturalised in hedges and waste places © Chris Chadwell

This species has strongly inflated bracteoles with overlapping edges, completely concealing the calyx - I paid little (if any) attention to subspecies when I was botanizing in the UK in the 1980s, so would have assumed everything I saw (and the larger bindweeds tend to be rather weedy in growth and often in waste places) at that time was CALYSTEGIA  SEPIUM. © Chris Chadwell

Solitary white flowers, funnel-shaped - I find them very delicate, the slightest touch causing damage © Chris Chadwell

Charming dull crimson flowers which are often missed - this is 'Salad Burnet' (SANGUISORBA  MINOR) - which Maycock & Woods (2005) record as common in calcareous grassland in  Buckinghamshire.  So surprising to find by a fence in Langley amongst urban weeds! © Chris Chadwell

Has it found its way here naturally or spread as a result of "planting" elsewhere in Langley? © Chris Chadwell

I have been wishing to find this for many years - not least as I give prominence to the 'Giant Himalayan Stinging Nettle' during my lectures on Nepal and sometimes speak of Roman soldiers rubbing their legs with nettles to warm them up to cope with the damp, cold conditions in England (compared to the Mediterranean climes many of them were accustomed to).  They even introduced the 'Roman Nettle' (URTICA PILULIFERA) for this purpose. © Chris Chadwell

This is 'Small Nettle' (URTICA  URENS) - Maycock & Woods (2005) recorded this as uncommon in waste places, often on lighter soils © Chris Chadwell

Druce (1926) knew this as the 'Small Stinging Nettle' (it does sting, though  one notices the thinner needles more slowly getting to wotk) on waste ground, manure heaps, usually near villages and on soils richer in nitrates than 'Nettle' (URTICA  DIOICA).  He considered this was often mistaken for the alien URTICA  PILULIFERA, which had been located, adventively in Northants, Berks, Middlesex and Surrey. © Chris Chadwell

Langley section of the 'Slough' arm of the Grand Union Canal, 8th June 2016

After visiting the local branch of my bank, I decided to explore along the canal at Langley, this time heading West (in the direction of Slough, where the canal ends - having been constructed to transport bricks to London from the brick-fields in Slough, Langley & Iver, up to London).  I had not walked this section for many years, indeed I think the last occasion I came along here was by bicycle, which rather hinders botanizing. Almost twenty years ago I took my eldest son (now almost 30) with some friends from primary on walks along here including a part of an outdoor birthday party (ending with games of football in a nearby park and a picnic).  It was my intention to go as far as the boundary of the Langley tetrad, a 2km square area (which I have just begun surveying intensively towards The Botanical Society of the British Isles 2020 Atlas, see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/wfob/introduction)- not that I was sure as to exactly where this was; I had just ordered a copy of the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (Number 160) 'Windsor, Weybridge & Bracknell' to help resolve this, something I had been meaning to do for decades!

In the end I made it to the first bridge across the canal but rather than heading south, across the recently constructed metal footbridge of the Great Western Railway, I crossed the bridge and then followed (for the first time), more or less, a bridle-path along the north side of the canal (which was just still within the Langley tetrad) in the hope of finding some additional species - which certainly proved to be the case.  Unfortunately, the bridge across the canal seems to be a regular meeting place for local middle-aged alcoholics.  They were not quiet drinkers either, amusing themselves using empty cans to throw at assorted targets.  All this disturbed the peace, which was a considerable pity as there was much to photograph and record.

'Yellow Flag' (IRIS  PSEUDOACORUS) - Druce (1926) found it common and widely distributed at the sides of rivers, brooks, streams and in marshy places in Buckinghamshire © Chris Chadwell

Flowers typically yellow; outer perianth segments often purple veined with an orange spot near the base © Chris Chadwell

'Hemlock Water-dropwort' (OENANTHE  CROCATA) - recorded as rare in rivers, canals and ditches, mostly in south Buckinghamshire (Maycock & Woods, 2005); I have found it widespread locally © Chris Chadwell

Druce (1926) found this in ditches, streams and pondsides; absent from the north of the county; he noted it was one of the poisonous species of drop-wort, with many deaths from eating the root © Chris Chadwell

Umbels 5-10cm, terminal; 12-40 rays, 2-7cm © Chris Chadwell

Flowers c. 2mm diam., petals of outer unequal © Chris Chadwell

Leaves 30cm or more, deltoid, 3-4 pinnate © Chris Chadwell

'Yellow-rattle' (RHINANTHUS  MINOR) - uncommon in old meadows & pastures in Buckinghamshire (Maycock & Woods, 2005);
I was very surprised to find this! © Chris Chadwell

Druce (1926) found this to be abundant & generally distributed a century ago, often injuring grass crops on the roots of which it is semi-parasitic 
© Chris Chadwell

Stem-leaves crenate-dentate © Chris Chadwell

I first spotted a small patch of this by the path on the south bank of the canal, next to a car-park of a small business park amongst 'Common Melilot'; there were a few capsules of what seemed to be 'Snake's-head Fritillary - which must have been planted , so I was wondering if the 'Yellow Rattle' had been as well but then I came across it in much larger quantity immediate opposite on the other bank of the canal in the remains of what was probably an old meadow © Chris Chadwell

Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to find this plant at the edge or 'urban' Langley and just within the northern boundary of the tetrad I am recording; clearly this plant can colonise a range of habitats as I also came across it on some waste ground in an over-grown area of concrete next to the local council re-cycling centre.  But is this one of the 'wild flowers' planted by the 'Friends of Slough Canal'? © Chris Chadwell

A long-boat heading to Slough viewed from the north side of the canal © Chris Chadwell

Yellow-flag irises and  Greater Reed-mace © Chris Chadwell

'Grass Vetchling' (LATHYRUS  NISSOLIA) - scarce in grassy places and perhaps over-looked (Maycock & Woods, 2005); I  found it previously in Iver Heath Fields and it was a companion species for a small patch of 'Bee Orchids' between the same canal and Iver station in the 1980s - which sadly soon became overgrown with brambles. I also saw a small colony of the vetchling in Ditton Park a couple of days later, perhaps further evidence that it is under-recorded © Chris Chadwell

Druce (1926) found it to be local and rather rare in grassy places and banks - he knew it as the 'Crimson Vetchling'; its first record for Buckinghamshire was in 1773 in Sir Roger Hill's waren at Denham, where it made a glowing figure in the hedge which few things equal © Chris Chadwell

'Meadow Crane's-bill' (GERANIUM  PRATENSE) - uncommon at road-sides and in old meadows in Buckinghamshire (Maycock & Woods, 2005); my only previous sighting of this was during a walk along the Thames back to Reading - so must be suspicious as to how it got here? © Chris Chadwell

Druce (1926) found this locally common in moist meadows, thickets and osier-holts; chiefly confined to the trough of the valley of the Ouse and Thames. I noticed on a second visit a sign laminated in plastic saying that volunteers from The Friends of Slough Canal had planted some wild flowers here (and presumably elsewhere).  It would be helpful to know exactly what had been planted (when) and what was the source of the plants? © Chris Chadwell

Towards Langley Health Centre, 14th May 2016

I had a couple of letters to deliver to my local health centre before it closed at 1300hrs (being a Saturday) so had no choice but to set-off in what was bright sunshine - though there was a little cloud about.  As I almost always do, I took my camera with me, just in case there was anything worth snapping. To be honest I had minimal expectation that there would be or light conditions conducive to securing reasonable images. Much to my surprise there turned out to a number of species I had not noticed before, whilst others, though decidedly 'weedy' in some respects, were putting on a good show.  By waiting for the clouds to improve the light and sitting with my back to the sun to provide additional shade, I managed some reasonable images which I am pleased to share with you:  © Chris Chadwell

'Field Madder' (SHERARDIA  ARVENSIS) has pretty pale lilac flowers en masse © Chris Chadwell

Maycock & Woods (2005) recorded this as uncommon in cultivated ground, short turf & waste places in Buckinghamshire - I suspect it is easily over-looked when not in flower, the foliage probably mistaken for common species of bedstraw. Unless it has only recently colonised the regularly mown grass in front of some flats for older residents, which I have walked passed on dozens of occasions, I have missed it over a period of more than 30 years!  Crawley (2005) a keen observer of fine detail and ecologist, considers it distinctly uncommon in Berkshire these days.  Bowen (1968) recorded it as "occasional" within his 'Flora of Berkshire', whereas Druce (1897) found it "very common in all suitable locations and generally distributed" in his flora of the same county and much the same in his 'Flora of Buckinghamshire' (1926).  With all due respect to these very capable modern field botanists, I suspect Druce walked a great deal more and would thus be better placed to judge distribution, so perhaps the differences of occurrence is partly explained by this - rather than a loss of habitat or other factors (such as use of herbicides) which apply nowadays?  Now that I have "my eye in" for this species, it will be interesting to see where else I spot it.  'Flora of the British Isles' (1962) has it flowering from May to October; I shall see for how long this colony is in flower this year, being sure to make a minor detour to take it in en route to my monthly visits to a nearby chemist (pharmacy)

Funnel-shaped corolla with long slender tube twice length of the 4 lobes. Upper leaves in a whorl, margins and midrib scabrid with forwardly directed prickles

Leaves in middle of stem 5-6 in whorls, elliptic-acute - prickles on margins not visible from above

'Field Madder' amongst grasses, common storksbill, daisies and black medick - such a display in a meadow in the countryside would rightly be rated highly, so why not be appreciated in an urban area?

'Black Medick' (MEDICAGO  LUPULINA) - very common in short turf & waste places in Buckinghamshire (Maycock & Woods 2005)

A clump of buttercups kept dwarf by the regular mowing

On first, superficial inspection, I assumed this must be 'Creeping Buttercup' (RANUNCULUS  REPENS) recorded as very common in grassland, rough places, gardens & pond margins in Buckinghamshire (Maycock & Woods, 2005); however, I was mistaken; this is in fact 'Bulbous Buttercup' (RANUNCULUS  BULBOSUS) - just goes to show one should always check!

Patch of 'Common Storksbill' (ERODIUM CICUTARIUM) - Maycock & Woods (2005) record this as rare in dry sandy places & road verges in Buckinghamshire - whereas this it is growing abundantly in mown grass and parks all over Langley and was prominent in waste ground at the edge of Upton Park. Crawley (2005) records this as locally common in Berkshire in sandy fields, dry arable land, disturbed ground, heaths, bare ground on waysides and on wall-tops but absent from large area of the clays and chalk - Langley has mostly clay soils; perhaps the chalky districts contribute to it being uncommon in parts of Bucks?

Petals rosy-purple or pink or white

 Langley towards Richings Park, 1st May 2016

One could not but notice this unquestionably showy 'Bluebell', which is clearly not our native species but is it the 'Spanish Bluebell' or a hybrid between the two? This was growing on a bank beside a road near to the Richings Park Golf Club, which appears to have been planted with cultivars of 'Daffodils' (our native daffodil is restricted in its occurrence) - so presumably these were also planted as opposed to having escaped and naturalised?

This MUST be the 'Spanish Blue-bell' (HYACINTHOIDES HISPANICA) - though does not match well some of the images I have seen reputed to be this plant.

The next plant which caught my eye was this patch of a small white-flowered specimen next to the road, which I had not noticed in 2015.

 I immediately thought of a scurvy-grass but this made no sense as I understood them to be coastal plants? However, last year (2015) I came across another typically coastal plant nearby which appears to inhabit the road-side due to the salt spread by gritting lorries during winter months - 'Alexanders' (SMYRNIUM OLUSATRUM) scroll down to April 2015 entry below

On closer inspection, it certainly appeared to be a 'Scurvy Grass' and on checking my floras, discovered that according to Maycock & Woods (2005) 'Danish Scurvey Grass' (COCHLEARIA  DANICA) was scarce at salted roadsides in Buckinghamshire but increasing.

Lower leaf 3-7 lobed, resembling ivy

It certainly matches this species.  Crawley (2005) in his 'Flora of Berkshire' provides detailed information on the ecology of this species, finding it to be locally common in the 30cm strip between the kerb and the start of grass; it seems to thrive on motorways and busy roads (which this is).  Having got my eye in I noticed it a few days latter - just a single, straggly specimen on a wall very close to a road in Langley Village - which prior to familiarising myself with this species, I may well have not spotted amongst the common weeds.  Just goes to show what one can find when one's attention is drawn to 'new' species.  Helps make my regular walks to the local branch of my bank my interesting!

Charlock growing as a weed beside an arable field

Bright yellow petals of 'Charlock' (SINAPSIS  ARVENSIS) - a weed of arable land, especially in spring-sown crops on calcareous and heavy soils

Stiffly hairy stems

A colourful display of 'Ground Ivy' (GLECHOMA  HEDERACEA)

Violet flowers amongst rich foliage

Canal, Langley, 8th April 2016

Dead foliage and fresh new green leaves of 'Branched Bur-reed' (SPARGANIUM  ERECTUM)

Submerged growth of 'Mare's-tail' (HIPPURUS  VULGARIS)

If you would like to see what this and the water-lily looks like when they have emerged above water, scroll down to the July 2015 entry on this page

Submerged young growth of 'Yellow Water Lily' (NUPHAR LUTEA)


Iver Heath Fields, 30th March 2016

Although they must have been planted, these primroses are a real delight

They are growing well on the sides of a ditch which runs along Field 3


Fittingly, the primroses are just 50m from Simon's seat

Simon's seat

Back in Druce's day (1926) primroses were common and generally distributed in woods, thickets and hedgebanks in Buckinghamshire - though even then much less frequent than formerly, owing to it being gathered so freely

Maycock & Woods (2005) found this to be common in woods & hedgebanks in the county but probably less so in SW Bucks

My walking boot allowed me to have a steady base in the stream itself to take close-ups

I did not bother to photograph the familiar male catkins of the 'Goat Willow' (SALIX  CAPREA) which were prominent during my visit but recorded these - which are the female catkins; this willow is common in woods, hedges and by water

The catkins appear before the leaves - male and female on different trees; female 3-7cm, finally lax (erect at this early stage) - from a distance and without foliage, one could easily imagine they were different species of willow

The earliest willow to flower - a shrub or small tree to 13m (40')

A few bluebells were just coming into flowers - but are these the wild species HYACINTHOIDES  NON-SCRIPTA?

As they were growing by the side of the footpath with the fences of gardens just a couple of metres away and evidence of dumping of garden refuse, one must be alert to the possibility of 'Spanish Bluebell' (HYACINTHOIDES  HISPANICA)  and 'Garden Bluebell' (H. NON-SCRIPTA x H.HISPANICA).  Crawley (2005) in his 'Flora of Berkshire', states that the former was much over-recorded in the past for the latter hybrid - a common garden escape in ditches and on banks, which is fertile and often present in the absence of both parents.  The hybrid is told from the true blue-bell by its blue (not white anthers) and its bell-shaped (not parallel-sided flowers).  A pink form is common.  There is, thankfully, no evidence that these plants are invasive of ancient woodland, nor that gene flow from them threatens native populations of bluebells...

This certainly does not come close to what I understand to be the 'Spanish bluebell'. The anthers on this plant are white, suggesting the true HYACINTHOIDES  NON-SCRIPTA but surely there are a range of forms and intermediates, which back-cross, as in "hybrid swarms"?

Sorry to have to raise concerns as to whether such plants are native, naturalised or planted but when we live amongst habitation and such a high proportion of the local flora are ALIENS it is important to be aware of such considerations!  There were quite a number of daffodils in Iver Heath Fields - these have clearly been planted (along with the primroses) but are likely to be cultivars, rather than truly wild forms?

'Gorse' (ULEX  EUROPAEUS) - widely distributed and locally common on heaths and dry pastures but avoiding cold, stiff clays and the chalk downs

Calyx 2/3 length of corolla

Lower lip of calyx minutely 3-toothed; upper minutely 2-toothed

Calyx removed; wings rather longer than keel

The muddy path leading to the main section of Iver Heath Fields - overgrown with brambles

Wooded area to SE of Field 1.

Mossy lower trunk.

Fallen trunk covered in mosses

Closer view of mosses on fallen trunk

Male catkins of 'Hazel' or 'Cob-nut' (CORYLUS  AVELLANA)

Hazel is very common in woodland and hedgerows in Buckinghamshire

Male catkins 1-4 together, 2-8cm, bracts ovate, anthers bright yellow; female spikes often missed, 5mm, styles red!

'Pendulous Sedge' (CAREX  PENDULA) at edge of stream


Iver Village Conservation Area, 21st March 2016

Despite many visits to St. Peter's church, Iver, this was the first occasion I had actually read this plaque, which explains that the lych-gate had been erected in 1938 by the daughters of Tonman Mosley, Baron Anslow of Iver - my great grandmother, Margaret Allan, brought a prized Ayrshire Bull down from Craigie by Kilmarnock for Mosley to exhibit at local Agricultural shows (were it won top prizes); she met and married Leonard Chadwell, father of Leonard Allan Chadwell M.C.

Daffodils planted in the churchyard

Daffodils at the base of a yew tree which has seen better days

'Lesser Celandines' (RANUNCULUS FICARIA) amongst gravestones

'Lesser celandines' making a fine display

'Persian Speedwell' or 'Common Field-speedwell' (VERONICA  PERSICA)

Very common on cultivated ground and waste places - here on a grave in the churchyard

Bright blue flowers; the lower lobe (here the smallest, top right corner) often paler or white

Distinguished from VERONICA CHAMAEDRYS ('Germander Speedwell') by stems hairy all round (cf. long white hairs in two lines on opposite sides); leaves alternate (cf. opposite)

Daffodil growing in the Tony and Pamela Chadwell's grave

The old bridge over the Colne brook - taking the road from Iver to Uxbridge (now blocked by the motorway)

The view of a mini-weir to the north of the bridge

'Sweet Violet' (VIOLA ODORATA)

Druce (1926) found this rather frequent and widely distributed in woodland districts, requiring shade and shelter

Flowers sweet-scented, deep violet or as commonly white with pale lilac  or violet spur, rarely purple or pink; sepals oblong

It is a shame to end what was a pleasant outing with a depressing experience.  I decided to take a quick look at Swan Meadow, just along the lane from the Swan pub across from St. Peter's church.  It had been established with a view to enabling the grasses and other wild plants to flourish but already the grass had been cut (yet again) and looks increasing like a field being prepared for football.....  At this rate, combined with the rabbits, there will be more wild flowers growing in my local parks with their swings and roundabouts plus frequent dog crapping.  Why not stop pretending and put in a giant bouncy castle!?  How sad...... It is essential for the grass-cutting regime to be MANAGED, to allow 'meadow' flowers to flower (and set-seed) before cutting them.  I realise there were complaints that the grass was too long... Well that is what it NEEDS to be at certain times of the year, if you want a MEADOW....


Canal at Langley, 14th July 2015

What a great morning I had.  After paying cheques into my local bank branch, I set out to walk along the stretch of nearby canal.  I was rewarded by a wonderful display of aquatic plants in clear, clean-looking water, brimming with small fish.  This section of canal is opposite quite a number of canal boats which are permanently moored, providing homes -so delightfully clear of the depressing dumping of rubbish and refuse found in the canal close to Slough or effluent from small factories which pollutes the canal close to Iver.  My mind wandered to those wonderful days I have been fortunate enough to spend on Kashmir lakes being paddled along in gondola-like shikara to admire the rich aquatic plant life.  There were no lotuses of course but plenty to admire, as you can see below.

'Flowering Rush' opposite canal boats

Lily pads and Arrowhead leaves