Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Botany with the Ashmolean Natural History Society at Langley's Lane SSSI

We had a perfect day for our first session with the Ashmolean Natural History Society tutors Frances and Susan. After introductions to terminology and the basic naming of parts in the bird hide we took advantage of  the bright spring sunshine to sit in the beautiful meadow of Langley's Lane SSSI. We were surrounded by cowslips, green winged orchids, buttercups and many others not yet in flower.
Having got started on cowslips and three different species of buttercup we thought we had found an easy one with the green winged orchid. It was obviously an orchid and with the help of our hand lenses we could see the outer petals with the green veins hence the name of green winged orchid. But nothing is that easy and like many other species the variation in colour can be quite extensive, and the green winged orchid can vary from an intense purple to almost white.

It helps to be a botanist if you can get close to your subject and we all had to practise the classic botanists working position.


Thanks to Malcolm for some excellent photographs. He will be well placed for creating his own personal file of records which is an important part of becoming a fully fledged botanist. Luckily for several of us artistically challenged enthusiasts it is no longer necessary to draw the plants as digital photographs can do such a good job. But I think there is no replacement for the detailed observation that drawing requires even if the hand doesn't follow the eye very well.

Next month we will be looking at dandelions and other plants that will be in flower then as well as grasses and sedges. I think the tutors started us off very gently on Saturday.

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