New Year Plant Hunt #4 – Leicestershire

The 3rd January arrived and with New Year Plant Hunt‘s completed in two counties in the first two days (Devon and Bristol), I decided to get up early, before the rain, and nip across the border into Leicestershire to record in a third county.

I went to a Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust site first – Stonesby Quarry in the village of Waltham on the Wolds. This is a lovely spot in the summer and a good place to see butterflies such as common blue and dingy skipper. I wasn’t sure what the limestone grassland habitats would show up but I thought the landform might lead to some more sheltered conditions which might encourage winter flowering.


Sign at the entrance of Stonesby Quarry

The more established grassland swards turned up very little – or perhaps revealed very little – but the sparser more ephemeral areas revealed a few interesting species such as common mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum), common field speedwell (Veronica persica), thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia) and scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).


Many of the more established areas of grassland sward held plenty of evidence of last season’s flowers but very few species in bloom during the January plant hunt.

Other typical long-season species were flowering towards the edges such as white deadnettle (Lamium album) and red campion (Silene dioica) along with wood avens (Geum urbanum) and hogweed (Heracleum sphonylium). My favourite find of the day was perhaps this red campion – usually a species with a few flowers on tall gangly stems, a close-chop for this one seemed to produce a profusion of flowers on a low flowering ‘spike’!


On the way back towards home, I called in at the village of Branston where I had spotted some interesting arable flora in the summer and was curious to see whether there was any remnants of them. Sadly only rosettes were present within bare ground, but the village itself held a few more species such as lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) and primrose (Primula veris).

Just as the rain settled in for the rest of the day, I spotted my last species of the day, the ever trust ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis) which has been a staple of every Hunt so far this year!

Photo montage of the 26 species (highest count so far!) is below:

Leicestershire Large.jpg

The full species list is as follows:

Annual meadow grass (Poa annua)
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus)
Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)
Prickly sow-thistle (Sonchus asper)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
White dead-nettle (Lamium album)
Common mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum)
Common field speedwell (Veronica persica)
Thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia)
Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
Scentless mayweed (Tripleurospermum inodorum)
Red campion (Silene dioica)
Wood avens (Geum urbanum)
Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis)
Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Oil-seed rape (Brassica napus subsp. oleifera) (naturalised)
Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)
Red/white campion hybrid (Silene spp.)


The flock of… moderately friendly sheep which graze the site during the winter.