Wednesday 21 June 2023

Cowberry a new native plant for County Wexford

 It was a great surprise to find Cowberry on a rocky knoll on Black Rock Mountain, as it is a new native species for the county. The Cowberry was spread out over an area 3 x 10 m. It was a monad I hadn't walked in before, with the only habitat being heather moorland, and a few flushes.

Cowberry grows on the small knoll in the foreground. Mount Leinster the highest point in the distance 
                                                       The knoll the Cowberry grows

The Cowberry had finished flowering. The above photo shows Cowberry with fruits

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Brief end of year report for 2019 of recording in Wexford

2019 was another amazing year for recording in Wexford. Almost 60,000 records were collected during the year. We set out a few aims at the start of the year. One was to make sure all 2564 moands received a visit, this I’m glad to say we achieved. Another was to try and find 100 or more species per monad. At the end of 2018 there were 158 monads, by the end of this year there are just 78 monads with 99 or less species. None of these are ever likely to top the 100 mark, as most are around the border of the county, and are part monads or high up in the Blackstairs Mountains.

The average number of species per monad has also increased by 9 to 167.

The number of species for hectads has continued to increase. T02 which includes Wexford Town still has the largest list of species, reaching 953 this year. The average number of species for the 42 hectads is 658.

Refinds for the county
There have been some exceptional refinds of native species that were thought extinct in the county.  Matthiola sinuata (Sea Stock) had been extinct in Ireland since 1925 was refound on the east coast. On the south coast Cytisus scoparius subsp. maritimus (Prostrate Broom) was refound on Baginbun Head in large numbers, this broom that hugs the ground rather than growing upright was last recorded here in the 1880s by H.C. Hart, and the first county record since the 1960s. Also on the south coast Lathyrus japonicus (Sea Pea) was found on a shingle beach on the Hook, 2nd county record, and first since 1994. It wasn’t just native species that we had luck with, even as late as December Angelica archangelica (Garden Angelica) was refound on the bank of the River Barrow at New Ross, this garden escape last reported here in 1994 by Ro FitzGerald.

 Sea Pea above
 Broom above
 Sea Stock above

New species & hybrids for the county
31 new species and hybrids have been added to the county list in 2019. 6 of these were hybrids. Only 8 out of the 31 were native: Geum x intermedium (Water x Wood Avens) and 7 dandelions. Even though found in 2018, but not named until 2019 was Euphrasia stricta, was the best record as this is a new eyebright for Ireland.

Fun projects
Other fun projects included over the winter months trying to find Stellaria media (Common Chickweed) for as many of the monads as possible. Once you got the hang of what habitat Common Chickweed liked it was reasonably easy to find, well used field gateways, fields resown to grass, and waste ground were the best places to look. Surprisingly hard to find in stubble fields and on road verges.  

Sunday 12 May 2019

Cerastium fontanum subsp. holosteoides (Common Mouse-ear) was a nice surprise today on the dunes at Grogan Burrow, as it is a new subsp. for the county. I have known this almost hairless Mouse-ear on the dunes of Ballyteige Burrow since about 2011, but have never seen it flowering. Today as soon as I saw the flowers, noticing how much larger they were, it took me back to seeing this subsp. in the Comeragh Mountains in Co. Waterford.

The leaves look glossy as they are hairless, except for along the margins. The internodes are hairless except for a single row of hairs.

I now have to visit Ballyteige Burrow to see if the hairless Cerastium fontanum there are the same subsp.  

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Matthiola sinuata (Sea Stock) refound in Wexford, thought to be extinct in Ireland

 Sea Stock refound on the Wexford coast. A species that was thought extinct in Ireland. The Ireland Red List No. 10 Vascular Plants says it was last seen in Ireland from Co. Clare in 1933, and for Wexford says 1925. In my database for the county I have records up to the 1970s, which would seen to be correct, as more than one person has mentioned seeing Sea Stock in the county, since I reported the Wexford site found on 2nd April. I counted 85 plants, but might be as many as 100 plants. The Sea Stock has been there more than one year, as there were tiny little plants as well as large rosettes. I walked this stretch of coast in 2016 looking for Atriplex, surprised I didn't seen it then if it was there, would seem more likely that a winter storm unearthed buried seeds.
 Above: Sea Stock growing on the margin of the Sea Buckthorn shrub, on the edge of the sandy areas just above the strand. Below: looking south.

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Cotoneaster frigidus (Tree Cotoneaster) growing on the site of a ruin, new species for Wexford

 I was out trying to refind Carex strigosa (Thin-spiked Wood-sedge) in the only hectad in the county where there is no post 2000 record. No luck as where the Carex once grew had been drained and planted with trees. While in the area I noticed two large chimneys poking above the trees, my first thought was there might be snowdrops in the wood, if it was a ruin (see below). It was a large house at one time known as Coolbawn. There was a Cotoneaster self-sown on the ruins, plus a very large tree of the Cotoneaster (see above), which I took to have been planted. As the tree still had leaves and berries I was able to ID it as Cotoneaster frigidus (Tree Cotoneaster) a new species for the county.
                                             Above and below the ruins of Coolbawn
 Also self-sown on the ruin was a number of bushes of Veronica salicifolia (Koromiko) (see blow, light green bush in picture), this is a new hectad record for this Veronica. Had no luck in finding any snowdrops, but very much enjoyed looking around the ruins.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Map showing average number of species per monad in each hectad within Co. Wexford

Map showing average number of species per monad within each hectad to the of 2018

By the end of 2018 all but one monad had species recorded in Co. Wexford.

There are 2558 monads in the county.

The aim when I started recording for the Flora of Co. Wexford in 2008, was to record one monad from each Tetrad across the county. Paula O’Meara started recording in 2010. A couple years later I decided to aim to visit every monad, something I didn’t really think possible by the end of 2019. Not sure when it was decided to aim for a minimum of 100 species per monad.

S8251 is the only monad with no records.

There are 404,870 individual monad species records across the county.

The average number of species for a monad across the county is 158.

153 monads have under 100 species recorded. The majority are part monads around the county margin, where the neighbouring county has the largest area of land, or most of the monad is in the sea. There is one monad that has only Zostera marina (Eelgrass), even at low tide there is no land above sea-level. Another monad has only a sandy beach as land, the one species being found is Atriplex laciniata (Frosted Orache).

Two whole monads only have 1 species recorded, hopefully they will be visited in the next couple of weeks. Access can be a big problem, this is usually the reason why some whole monads have less than 100 species recorded. Other whole monads just don’t have a very good variety of habitats. For example one monad was all arable, and weed killer had been used along every field bank, only the toughest of species surviving.

Looking forward to seeing how 2019 turns out, and how many more monads can top 100 species.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Thelypteris palustris (Marsh Fern) new native for Co. Wexford

 A real surprise on Friday was finding a very large stand of Marsh Fern in the marsh behind the dunes at Curracloe. This is a new native fern for Co. Wexford. There was a clearing amongst the willows, with reeds, the fern was amongst the other species in the clearing. There were also a few other scattered small clumps of the fern under the willows.

 Below growing amongst the reeds.