Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wisley, Kew & Edinburgh

This post aims to zip through a few of the interesting plants from the remainder of my Botanic Garden tour. Spring being here I am rapidly amassing a backlog of material for this blog so I can't go into too great detail.

A couple of weeks ago I set off on my final set of lengthy train journeys and Travellodge nights. This was just as the cold weather finally departed making way for the delayed start of spring. This seemed to foreshorten the season meaning that when I arrived at RHS Wisely all the Magnolias, Rhododendrons and Camellias were all blooming together on Battleston Hill. 

Firstly a spider, Uloborus plumipes. This is the commonest member of a number of tramp spider species found in glasshouses (Wilson, 2011). Introduced by way of Holland and first recorded in the 1990's this species is now widespread in the UK as can be seen from this distribution map. This species was once thought to be parthenogenetic as very few males had been observed but this notion has since been dismissed  as males have been found in abundance higher up in glasshouses beyond the reach of most observers (Oxford, 2011).   

Uloborus plumipes, Tropical Propagation House, RHS Wisely, April 2013  

Outside scrambling among the mossy rockery I noticed a species that I have kept in mind while out in the mountains of Wales and Ireland. Epilobium pedunculare, Rockery Willowherb originates from New Zeeland and bears a strong resemblance to the now ubiquitous invasive E. brunnescens. E. pedunculare differs from Ebrunnescens in having toothed margins to the leaves and is naturalised here and there in the UK hills.

Epilobium pedunculare,
The Rockery, RHS Wisely, April 2013

Moving rapidly on to Kew. One plant I noticed spreading profusely in the temperate house was the Yellow-flowered Strawberry, Potentilla indica. This species with its distinctive large green epicalyx is naturalised in a few places in the UK. Since returning from my trip I noticed a large patch of this species growing by a path I frequently walk in Aberystwyth.  

Potentilla indica, Temperate House, RBG Kew, April 2013 

A species that was rampant in a couple of the Edinburgh glasshouses was labbled Nertera balfouriana but according to the on-line Flora of New Zeeland is actually N. depressa. A name that is, in turn, a synonym of Nertera granadensis. This small creeping plant of the family Rubiaceae is a native of damp places scattered across the Southern Hemisphere. Vegetatively it is reminiscent of a small species of Stellaria though the multitude of small purple spots on the stems help make it distinctive. More robust forms of Ngranadensis are grown as house plants for their impressive show of orange berries and it has been recorded as a garden escape in the UK.    

Nertera granadensis , RBG Edinburgh, May 2013 

Oxford, G. (2011). Death of an urban myth-parthenogenesis in Uloborus plumipes. Newsletter-British Arachnological Society, (121), 6-8.

Wilson, R. (2011). Some Tropical Spiders Recorded in Leeds, West Yorkshire and a Review of Non-Native Taxa Recorded in the UK. Newsletter-British Arachnological Society, (120), 1-5.

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