Each year, the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) run a New Year’s Plant Hunt where they invite people to record as many species in flower as they can in the New Year – between 1st and 4th January.
This was the third Plant Hunt I found opportunity to do – this time in Bristol City Centre around Castle Park on the 2nd January 2016. I have spent little time exploring wildlife in more urban environments and was surprised just how many times I found people sleeping rough, or evidence of them doing so. In Exeter the day before, I tiptoed past a couple of sleeping bags under the shrubs and in Bristol came across several stashed caches of belongings as well as a pitched tent in a smaller park.
The species I recorded in the gloaming drizzle were often nestling into the cracks in the city – bright splashes of yellow came from dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.), Oregan grape (Mahonia spp.) ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). The purple flowers of periwinkle (Vinca minor) appeared where it had escaped its garden origins and was flowering beside an underpass; whilst the mowed lawns of the Castle Gardens held naturalised stocks and sweet alyssum.
I think one of my favourite finds was annual mercury (Mercurialis annua) flowering in a shrubbery beside a city-centre church – this is a subtle and rather unimpressive relative of the more familiar woodland dog’s mercury (Mercurialis perennis), but a species I have rarely encountered.
Again, photographs are poor thanks to the conditions and the specimens, but the montage below shows the species recorded.
The full species list is provided below:
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Annual meadow grass (Poa annua)
Cock’s foot (Dactylis glomerata)
Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)
Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)
Canadian fleabane (Conyza canadensis)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Periwinkle (Vinca major)
Annual mercury (Mercurialis annua)
Wall lettuce (Lactuca muralis)
Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.)
Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
Dove’s foot cranesbill (Geranium mollis)
Stock (Matthiola spp.)
Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Common mouseear (Cerastium fontanum)
Perennial sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis)