Members Reports and Photos
SATURDAY 5 april 2014
LEADER: richard mcmullen
Praeger centre, national botanic gardens
Introduction to the Identification of ‘Wild’ Flowering Plants
Richard gave us a very thorough and systematic introduction
to the identification of the parts of plants – an essential requirement for
the use of dichotomous keys such as Webb’s
Irish Flora. His talk was accompanied by the building-up of excellent
sketches on a white board. He then distributed sample plants and took us as a
group through the process of identifying some common plants using the Flora
and then to do their own identifications with assistance if required.
Some of the attendees had brought in specimens for
identification and during lunch hour Richard and his assistants sorted out the
plants into family groups. We all then had an opportunity to gain further
insights some of features of each family and the salient differences between
members of the same family. For example, the Cruciferaceae (Brassicaceae) were
represented by white and yellow flowers each with four petals forming a
cruciform. Among the plants from
this family displayed were Wild Cabbage Brassica
rapa, Wall Rocket Diplotaxis muralis,
Thale Cress Arabidopsis thaliana,
Hairy bitter-cress Cardamine hirsuta,
Wavy bitter-cress Cardamine flexuosa
and Shepherd’s purse Capsella
The participant’s had a variety of identification books
including Zoë Devlin’s pictorial Guide
to the wildflowers of Ireland.
Declan then took us for a short walk to look at some of the
Botanic Garden ‘Weeds’. Arabidopsis
thaliana was present in some quantity. This is a short cycle plant – it
germinates, flowers and sets seed in a short period of the order of six weeks.
This short cycle gives the impression that it is resistant to herbicides (and
perhaps it is!). It also a short genome and is
an important plant used in genetic research. Cardamine
flexuosa is another weed that is spread by garden centres.
amplexicaule plants were found at the edge of the pathway. This is a not
very common weed of cultivation. It was noted that the plants were small and the
flowers were tiny. Declan explained that the plant has two flowering forms. It
is cleistogamous in circumstances where it is under pressure due to weather or
other conditions i.e. it flowers do
not open and are self fertilized by internal transfer of pollen.
This lead to questions about brambles which are generally apomictic –
no fertilisation is involved in reproduction, so many brambles are (identical) clones.
In the flower beds under the willows along the Tolka River
we observed plants of the Dog-violet Viola
reichenbachiana resplendent with their deep blue spurs. The other Dog-violet
Viola riviniana normally has a broader
‘cream’ spur but some Dublin specimens can be very difficult to classify.
Also under the trees was Purple Toothwort Lathraea
clandestina a member of the Broomrape family and an introduction from
south-west Europe. This plant is parasitic on the roots of trees such as poplar
and willow. Yellow corydalis Corydalis lutea was naturalised along the bottom of the walls.
This meeting was attended by Field Club Union members from
Belfast, Fermanagh and Mourne.
Click on the Pages below to see copies of Richard's sketches of plant anatomy:
Page 1 Page 2 Page3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7
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