Olav's Wood: Plants along the roadside

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Plants on the roadside verges around Olav's Wood

The roadside verges around Olav's Wood are damp grassland with a rich flora. Here are a few pictures (June 2014). Pictures are clickable as usual to get a full size image.

Marsh Horsetail (Equisetum palustre)
- fertile cone.
A plant from a roadside population of
Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza
purpurella
) with heavily spotted (lower)
leaves.
Water Avens (Geum rivale).
Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi). Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis).

Plant variability

Variability is a characteristic of the natural world. Single species, when individuals are examined carefully, often show considerable variability. To what extent this is genetically determined, and whether it has adaptive value, or is involved in speciation are interesting questions.

Here are some pictures of Red Campion (Silene dioica) along the roadside verges near Olav's Wood. The colour of the flowers varies from deep pink, through pale pink to almost white, and some individuals have petals streaked with dark and light pinks. Red Campion is interesting for various reasons:

  • There is a natural variability in petal colour in the species, part of which is geographical.
  • It hybridises frequently with White Campion (S. latifolia) to form a highly fertile hybrid (S. x hampeana) with a range of intermediate characters.
  • The variability appears to be at the level of individual plants (i.e. the flowers on an individual plants are all of a similar colouration). The species is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. Is petal colour linked to the gender of the plant?

Here is what Floras say about the variability in Red Campion:

Flower colour ranges from deep red in Shetland through the normal bright rosy-pink and the paler pink of the frequent hybrid with White Campion to the occasional albino sport... Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland, M. Blamey, R. Fitter and A. Fitter. Domino Books. 2003.

Petals red or pink (rarely white)... White flowered plants can usually be told from S. latifolia by the lack of anthocyanin in stem and leaves as well, but pale pink-flowered plants seem sometimes identical with certain hybrids. Some plants in Shetland have large deep red flowers... New Flora of the British Isles, Clive Stace. C.U.P. 1991.

Below are some pictures of plants along the roadside from Olav's Wood to Windwick in June 2014. Pictures are clickable to expand.

Some of the variability is on display here,
framed by the beautiful bay of Windwick.
Some plants have deep pink flowers. From mid-pink to pale two-tone flowers
Flower showing streaking of
dark and light pinks.
Different patterns of streaking are evident.

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