Members Reports and Photos

SATURDAY 15 March  2014            



Those members with a spring in their step were out with Gerry Sharkey for his spring walk in the Phoenix Park. It proved  a perfect day to look for early flowering plants, shrubs, birds and insects as the weather stayed dry and sunny throughout.

Starting from the Knockmaroon Gate our walk took us eastwards along the wall of the Park, then down by the Glen Pond, up past the Furry Glen, turning from there back to the Upper Glen Road and completing a circle via the Knockmaroon Road to where we had set out from.  

Gerry identified the following plants for us: 

Allium vineale (Crow Garlic), growing in tufts along by the wall, with evidence of nibbling by deer at the first stage of growth.

Ranunculus ficaria/Ficaria verna (Lesser Celadine), in flower and in abundance, the number of petals on flowers ranging from 8-12.

Arum maculatum (Lord and Ladies), at early stage of growth and in abundance.  

Brachypodium sylvaticum (False Brome), easily identifiable by its tuft of leaf blades that tend to ‘flop over.’  It is a woodland grass usually on limestone ground with long drooping spikelets. It tends to flower early before the tree canopy closes and is wind pollinated.

Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert), in the early growth stage. Gerry pointed out its importance as nectar and pollen provider for insects all summer.

Cirsium palustre (Marsh Thistle), a rosette of dark green base leaves now only evident, but which will take on a purplish edge as the plant matures. A tall and narrow plant.

Stellaria media (Common Chickweed), much in abundance especially at tree bases.   

Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress), some in flower.

Mercurialis annua (Annual Mercury), in flower and quite common, especially along the Upper Glen Road .

Trifolium dubium (Lesser Trefoil), it was appropriate to find this plant so close to St Patrick’s Day as it’s considered by many the true Shamrock!

Rumex obtusifolius (Broad-leaved Dock), at early stage of growth.

Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley), in early stage and in abundance.

Dactylis glomerata (Cock’s-foot Grass), recognisable by the down-turned spur below the flower-head.

Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp Agrimony), the dried stalks and flower-heads of last year’s growth distinctive.

Lamium purpureum (Red Dead-Nettle), occasional.        

Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Iris), the green blades pushing up through the shallow area of the pond, its rhizome straight-line structure now quite evident.

Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard), its leaves when crushed smelling strongly of garlic.  

The pond was unusually devoid of birds, only coot, water-hen and mallards visible. Many of the ducks were roosting in the sunshine. Up at the Furry Glen long-tailed tits were easily identifiable in the spring sunshine as they flitted from branch to branch showing their pinkish underparts. 

Despite the fine spring day, insects were still very scarce and almost invisible except to the Tits. The occassional sighting was made of a  7-spot Ladybird which had emerged from hibernation and of bees nectaring on Gorse (Whin or Furze) (Ulex europaeus). 

Gerry showed us the twig fungus, Scarlet Cup, red on top and whitish below, near the pond edge. Nearby a number of Blackthorn trees (Prunus spinosa) were in bloom, their flowers appearing before the leaves.

Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s Tongue Fern) and Polystichum setiferum (Soft Shield-fern) were identified by Gerry, but at the very early stage of growth it was difficult to identify a number of other ferns. Some of them had apparently been affected by weedkiller and looked very abnormal.

Overall a wonderful spring walk! Pat Lenihan on behalf of the DNFC thanked Gerry for his time and for sharing his knowledge with the members. 
Tom Miniter



Sarcoscypha austriaca                            Alliaria petiolata                                   Prunus spinosa


Ficaria verna                      Cirsium palustre                           7-Spot Ladybird


Allium vineale                           Lamium purpureum                   Arum maculatum


Mercurialis annua                                 Participants                             Prunus spinosa


Mercurialis annua                                               Polystichum setiferum


Photos  ©  P Lenihan 

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