Members Reports and Photos
SATURDAY 26 april 2014
LEADER: CATRIONA bRADY
BRITTAS BAY, CO. WICKLOW
Sand Dune Plants
Despite the weather forecast for heavy rain and wind, seven members joined the leader, Catriona Brady, at this meeting to explore the flora of the Brittas Bay dunes area.
Before looking at the flora, the group first stopped to admire a rather uncommon fungus, the Morel Morchella esculenta, a spring flowering species which is often associated with conifers. The single specimen was growing in typical dune vegetation, with Common Restharrow Ononis repens, Whitlowgrass Erophila verna in flower and fruit, Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria, Common Dog-violet Viola riviniana, Glaucous Sedge Carex flacca,Common Milkwort Polygala vulgaris and Luzula campestris Field Wood-rush.
A short climb up a nearby dune ridge provided a good
view of the extent of the presence of
Sea-buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides in the dune system.
Catriona noted to the group that, for good or
ill, this is perhaps the plant with everything:
heavily armed against disturbance and
trampling, silver leaved for moisture retention and salt tolerance, flowering
early and spreading via seeds and rhizomes, with nitrogen fixing nodules in its
root system, an edible berry high in ascorbic acid that is favoured by rabbits
(and jam-makers!) and capable of growing in any soil in any conditions.
Having been planted as a dune stabiliser and as
a barrier planting at golf course perimeters,
H. rhamnoides continues on the increase, taking over
tracts of dune along the east coast from Dublin to Wexford.
The group moved on to the front of the dune system where the effects of winter
storms were evidenced.
Previously undisturbed fixed dunes are now
slightly eroded and there appears to have been some dumping of sand on the
landward side of the fore dune by storms.
has appeared here. Against the background of a dramatic high sea driving
onshore from the east, the group reviewed the progression of the dune vegetation
arenaria, to herbiferous grassland and back to the shrubby zone
where species such as Honeysuckle
Lonicera periclymenum and Burnet Rose
grew. Here, Creeping Willow Salix
repens was examined in some detail to get to terms with the
dioecious structure of the plant.
Next, it was back to the shelter of the dune slacks to view an impressive stand
of Sharp Rush Juncus
Catriona noted that the species appears to be
on the increase at this site.
Staying in the sheltered dune area, the group
moved on to view Wild Pansy Viola tricolor (subsp. curtisii), Sea Mouse-ear
Cerastium diffusum and
Thyme-leaved Sandwort Arenaria
serpyllifolia, the latter two species growing intertwined together.
A stop to view
Heath Dog-violet Viola canina, yielded
the adjacent treat of the Puss Moth Cerura vinula resting near the base of a clump of
Finally, the group moved on to a field on the landward side of the road at the back of the dunes to view Common Cudweed Filago vulgaris, Little Mouse-ear Cerastium semidecandrum, Sweet Vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum, Sheep's Sorrel Rumex acetosella, Erophila verna, Thale Cress Arabidopsis thaliana and Dove's-foot Crane's Bill Geranium molle were also seen. Moore's Horsetail Equisetum x moorei, which has recently disappeared from one of its sites on the nearby dunes due to storm erosion, was noted in some quantity here.
The outing ended as it had begun:
with a diversion away from the flora, this time
to admire the antics of a Pill Woodlouse
as it obligingly unfurled when cupped and warmed up in the palm of the hand.
Brit tas Beach
Vicia (Vetch) Arenaria serpyllifolia Cerastium glomeratum
Equisetum x moorei
Hyacinthoides non-scripta Equisetum x moorei Viola canina
Juncus acutus Gnaphalium vulgaris Morchella esculenta
Sand Dunes Participants
Photographs © Pat Lenihan
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