Monday, 30 March 2020

Geranium in early spring.

Following on from my ID Key on Geraniums and Stork's-bills which was aimed at flowering plants, I have found identification in winter/early spring, introduces the extra complication of winter leaf shape in Cut-leaved Crane's-bill ( G. dissectum) which looks much like G. molle, G. pusillum and G. pyrenaicum. These four species are covered in the following photos.
G. dissectum   5th Feb 2020

Despite the leaf shape changing on certain species like G. dissectum, the petiole (leaf stalk) hairs still provide a reliable method of separating the geraniums. A slight complication is that winter leaf stalks can have fewer hairs. I did find a G. pusillium petiole which had no hairs but fortunately later leaves on the same plant had the normal hairs.

1) G. molle  ( Dove's-foot Crane's-bill)  vs G. pyrenaicum ( Hedgerow Crane's-bill)

These two species share the three types of  leaf stalk hairs, short glandular hairs , short simple hairs and long hairs.  The difference is that the G. molle long hairs are wispy and are even longer than G. pyrenacium.

G. molle showing wispy long hairs. Rampton 24th March 2020

G. molle showing the short glandular hairs , the simple hairs and the long wispy hairs.

G. pyrenaicum showing three types of hair, short glandular, short simple hairs and long hairs.
The long hairs on G. pyrenaicum are not wispy but stronger and less bendy.

G. pyrenaicum showing detail of the three types of hairs. Landbeach 24th March 2020
Some of the hairs are angled but this is not Cut-leaved which does not have the long hairs. See below.

Variation and similarity of the three basic hair types makes this quite difficult. The density of long hairs can vary with some G.molle having a dense layer of these wispy long hairs while other plants may have much fewer.  The Landbeach photo above is slightly odd in that the long hairs are very dense and downward pointing which gets close to the appearance of G. dissectum ( Cut-leaved Crane's-bill). The following photo which shows the same leaf and stem which gives a less detailed view showing that overall the hairs are not as downward pointing as you might expect in G. dissectum. This plus the leaf shape confirmed identity as G. pyrenaicum ( Hedgerow Crane's-bill). Hedgerow Crane's-bill is often a much more robust plant that G. Molle with bigger leaves.

G. pyrenaicum. Landbeach
G. pyrenaicum leaf
2) G. dissectum Cut-leaved Crane's-bill.

G. dissectum winter leaf, Rampton 24th March
First problem is that the winter leaves are not the thin cut versions of summer but rather like the G. molle/G. pusillum/G. pyrenaicum cut to 2/3rds type. Later leaves tend towards the thinner cut leaves as spring passes.

G. dissectum   5th Feb 2020

G. dissectum  leaf showing trend towards summer leaves.
G.dissectum Leaf showing more deeply cut sections. Rampton 24th March 2020
I will let others think about what the advantage of changing the leaf shape from winter to summer is.
Whether the more compact leaf shape is more frost resistant comes to mind.

Petiole (Leaf Stem) hairs.

G. dissectum  hairs showing short glandular hairs and angled straight hairs.

G. dissectum, less hairy stem. Angled hairs.

Key feature is the straight eglandular hairs are angled downwards at up to 45 degrees. The short glandular hairs are just visible in the top photo. The extremely long hairs that G. molle/G. pyrenaicum show are not present.

3) G. pusillum ( Small-flowered Crane's-bill)

G. pusillum leaf hairs, short glandular hairs plus short glandular hairs. No long hairs.

G. pusillum Devils Ditch, 25th March 2020

Some winter/early spring petioles (leaf stems) have almost no hairs. Normally they have a few short glandular hairs and lots of simple hairs that can be straight or curved. Because the short hairs tend to be all the same length and quite dense they make up a consistent layer.

Whereas leaf shape is variable, the hairs on the petiole ( leaf stem) do seem to give a consistent method of identification provided you have not found a garden escape which would make the situation much more complicated.

Peter G. Leonard
30th March 2020

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Crepis paludosa. Marsh Hawksbeard + Crepis lampsanoides

Marsh Hawksbeard ( Crepis paludosa )

Added to my species list in July 2019 during at visit to Allendale, Northumbria. This blog is my attempt to identify Marsh Hawksbeard for the first time. It follows my blog on Northern Hawksbeard which is a much less common plant. At the end I have added some photos of Crepis lampsanoides from Portugal which shares a key feature with Crepis paludosa.

C. paludosa Lower stem leaf, sessile ( not stalked)

As I mentioned in my recent blog on the Northern Hawksbeard, the Cumbria Botany team of Jeremy Roberts and Phil Brown produced a really good identification article covering Marsh and Northern Hawksbeard, plus it covers the Common Hawkweed that often grow beside the Northern Hawksbeard. This is much better than any of the field guides.  (page down for article on Northern Hawksbeard on left.)

Marsh Hawksbeard is similar to Northern Hawksbeard and some versions of the Hawkweed group in having a tall stem that splits again and again to hold a panicle of bright yellow flowers.
Basal leaves at the ground level,  then lower stem leaves which can be quite large, small mid stem leaves and even smaller upper stem leaves. Marsh and Northern Hawksbeards typically have about 3-4 stem leaves so if you find a plant with approx. 15, it's a Hawkweed. Other Hawkweeds have just 3-4 stem leaves but they don't have the special leaf shape of the Marsh Hawksbeard.

The key to the identification of Marsh Hawksbeard would appear to be the shape of the mid stem leaves. The excellent Harrop's Wild Flowers field guide  says 'stem leaves clasping, with large rounded basal lobes' whereas 'Rose' in the 'Wild Flower Key' says back-pointed basal lobes forming arrow-shape, with Northern having rounded bases. If this seems unclear I hope the photos below explain why the both field guides are correct.

 Unlike Northern Hawksbeard or most of the Hawkweeds, Marsh Hawksbeard is hairless when it comes to the leaves and stem. The Cumbria blog does mention that some Northern Hawksbeard are almost glabrous, having almost no hairs.

The photo above, showing a lower stem leaf, highlights the toothed margin, so you could think, it's a Hawkweed, but it isn't.  The very wide base and no leaf stalk would be odd for a Hawkweed. Its not a typical leaf anyway, but that's why I took a photo to show variation.

   The basal leaves at ground level have a winged stalk and toothed to shallowly-lobed margins with a pointed apex. I don't have any photos because they have often gone by the time of flowering so I didn't see any.

My first Marsh Hawksbeard in typical habitat of a stream/ river side and wet woodland.

C. paludosa just downstream from Allendale Town, 18th July 2019 

Lower stem leaf , same one as top photo, was quite a extreme shape with its curved teeth and sessile base ( no leaf stem). Note lack of hairs on stem and leaf. Strangely this leaf does not have the backward pointing lobes of a typical leaf.

Marsh Hawksbeard,
lower stem leaf showing zero hairs. Not a typical leaf shape.
Marsh Hawksbeard, Lower leaf of more typical shape.

The leaf above is more typical than the first leaf shown. Again it has the toothed margin and hairless surface. The base is interesting as the leaf does not clasp the stem in terms of running down into it, but  wraps round it with large rounded un-attached basal lobes ( Auriculate ). These lobes have teeth and that is probably the reason for the 'arrow shape' in the Rose Field Guide. The basic shape to the lobe is round but has teeth superimposed onto it. Depending on the size and position of the teeth you could have rounded lobes or pointed lobes!.

C. paludosa leaf with usual teeth and prominent basal lobes.

Another leaf, mid stem, showing an example of more rounded basal lobes. 

C. paludosa Variation in mid stem leaf without teeth being prominent.

 Yet another mid stem leaf but this time with limited teeth. The rounded basal lobes (auricles) have teeth but the rest of the leaf is free of them. The backward pointing auricles are quite small on this particular leaf, almost into Northern Hawksbeard territory, but the pointed teeth do not fit with Northern.

In this leaf the auricules ( backward pointing lobes) have the teeth making them look pointed.
Close up of the leaf to stem junction. Also shows lack of any hairs on stem or leaf.

Conclusion.  The two ID keys to the identification of Marsh hawksbeard are:-

1) Marsh Hawksbeards lack of hairs on leaves and stem, as both Northern Hawksbeard  and Hawkweeds normally have them.
OK a few species of Hawkweeds will not be hairy, but that's Hawkweeds.
 Northern Hawksbeard leaves can sometimes be very sparse so you need to look closely to see if any hairs are present so this might be a difficult key on some plants. This is why the Cumbria blog probably did not highlight this feature. You can say if the stem and leaves have hairs, it is not a Marsh Hawksbeard.

2) The mid stem leaves have backward pointing un-attached lobes (auricles) that go way past the stem and are basically rounded but often have pointed teeth superimposed on the margins. This combination is the special feature.
  Since leaf shape can vary, the first leaf photo being an example of an extreme, it is best to look closely at all the stem leaves to make a judgment. The Northern Hawkbeard can have un-attached backward pointing and rounded auricles on mid and upper stem leaves but they are smaller and do not go much beyond the stem plus these leaves do not have the teeth along the margin. Best to look at the leaves shown here, on my Northern Hawksbeard blog and on the Cumbria botany site to get a feeling for the differences. With only a very small sample seen, the Marsh Hawksbeard had mid-stem leaves  that looked quite different to the Northern Hawksbeard but I do not have a wide experience of the possible variation. I hope the next two drawings give some clarity to what might be a tricky distinction. Occasionally Northern Hawksbeard mid stem leaves can have the odd tooth so it is good to look at all the leaves.

Northern Hawksbeard
Marsh Hawksbeard

Comparison of mid-stem leaf shapes with Northern Hawksbeard having auricle that goes backwards past the stem by a maximum of a single stem thickness, whereas the Marsh hawksbeard typically goes backwards by about one to three stem thicknesses (disregarding the teeth).

Other features...

C. paludosa phyllaries are different lengths.

The basic feature of the cup and saucer pattern of the phyllaries to indicate a CREPIS, does not really work for Marsh or Northern Hawksbeard as the phyllaries are adpressed and of varying length, much like a typical Hawkweed. What is different, is the length of the glandular hairs, but this is apparently a variable feature and some plants can have almost no hairs according to Sell&Murrell.
C. paludosa Phyllaries with long black glandular hairs plus some eglandular hairs

A few hairs do extend from the phyllaries down the stem a short distance including a tiny amount of the cobwebby hairs but in general the stem do not have hairs.

C. paludosa pappus hairs are more like Hawkweed rather than the shinning white of Northern Hawksbeard.
C. paludosa achenes and pale brown pappus hairs.

Achenes are 4-5.5mm long and should have ten ribs but that is rather hard to count as rib size seems to vary a lot. The pappus hairs are pale brown. The achenes are rather straight and are only slightly narrow at the pappus end. No beak.  They are a pale brown colour which is unlike the typical dark achenes of most Hawkweeds. The C. mollis, Northern Hawksbeard has a very different look with 20 ridges and tapered down at each end.
Achene  C. paludosa  4.8mm long.

Achene C. mollis 

Pappus hairs have tiny barbs like C.mollis. and the Hawkweeds.
 The receptacle pit is smooth without scales or hairs.
The achene has to be be a key Identification feature.


C. paludosa 

Flower showing the yellow petals contrasting with the green stigma/style.

Final photo of the flower showing the stamen/anther tube with the red stripes as also seen in Northern Hawksbeard.  I did not see any petals that were not completely bright yellow, no banding present.

That concludes photos of Marsh Hawksbeard. The mid stem leaves are the key feature in the UK but if you venture into Europe they is another Crepis that has some similar un-attached backward pointing lobes on its leaves.

Crepis lampsanoides.

Seen in northern Portugal. Range, North Portugal through the Northern mountains of Spain through to the Pyrenees and into Southern France.
(Ref the Flora-On website which has good photos and distribution maps for the wild flowers of Portugal.) 

C. lampsanoides. 

Lower stem leaf
Although the leaf shares some similarity in the way the two backward lobes clasp the stem the leaf shape is very different from Marsh Hawksbeard. The leaf is lobed almost back to the leaf stem twice before the main part of the leaf widens out. The leaf and stem are hairy.

Mid stem leaf showing a narrowing rather than the lobbing almost back to the stem.
This leaf is a bit more like Marsh but still has the odd narrowing. It has some small teeth on the margin. 

C. lampsanoides.
Flower showing stigma/style are yellow and not contrasting with the petals. The stamen/anther tubes have the same red stripes that both Marsh and Northern Hawksbeard show.

C. lampsanoides showing glandular hairs on stem and phyllaries.

Seed Head showing Achenes 

Final photo showing just how many leaves are on the stalk.

The End
Peter G. Leonard , Rampton, Cambridgeshire.
30th January 2020

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Crepis mollis. Northern Hawksbeard

Crepis mollis ( Northern Hawksbeard ) and adjacent Hawkweeds. 
Notes and photos from Mid July 2019. A visit to Allendale, Northumberland.
Crepis mollis with phyllaries highlighted.
Over the last few years I have been attempting to learn to identify all the 'yellow dandelion' type flowers that I could find in Cambridgeshire. This has excluded the dandelions and hawkweeds which are way too difficult, with their hundreds of apomictic microspecies. One species that I was never going to see in Cambridgeshire was Marsh Hawksbeard as the nearest site is in the Peak District. A trip to the Peak District failed to find any.  With a planned trip to visit my daughter who had moved to Newcastle, I decided to track down not only Marsh Hawksbeard ( Crepis paludosa) but also the much less common Northern Hawksbeard ( Crepis mollis) which  has its main distribution in Northern England.

 As mentioned in my previous blog on Smooth, Rough and Beaked Hawksbeards, there is a really excellent article on the identification of Marsh, Northern and associated Hawkweeds on the Cumbria Botany blog written by 'JR'.  This article also covers the potential confusion with the Hieracium vulgatum, a Hawkweed that often grows with Northern Hawksbeard. Without this article written by Jeremy Roberts and supported with photos by Phil Brown, I think I might have struggled. Both these botanists are BSBI recorders for Cumberland with years of experience, so it is interesting to see what they found as good ID features and what they left out.   REF

The second advantage was that I had found several articles on the occurrence of Northern Hawksbeard, written in the South Northumberland Newsletter by BSBI recorder for vc67, John Richards. An e-mail requesting good locations to John Richards, provided two sites and this was much appreciated. I was also lucky in that 2019 was a good year for Northern Hawksbeard. See article :-

So with a good ID article and good site locations I headed north to see and photograph two new species. This blog covers Northern Hawksbeard and the nearby Hawkweed which could be confusing unless you really look at the differences in detail.

The Cumbria Botany article picks out leaf shape as a key difference to separate C. mollis from Hieracium and also secondary features like colour of the pappus and achene shape.

It is interesting they don't really look at the involucral bracts (phyllaries), which are supposed to be the best differentiator between Crepis and Hieracium , ref Sell Vol 4 Page 202.  Crepis are supposed to have a long and a short row of involucral bracts ( phyllaries) which form a cup and saucer. The key here, is two distinct rows. The species Smooth, Rough and Beaked, as covered in my previous blog, all show this feature well but I found that Marsh and Northern are not very good at following this rule.
 Possibly this is due to both Marsh and Northern being sectioned off into different grouping by Sell, outside the section 'Crepis' that includes Rough, Smooth and Beaked etc. Although all have a scientific name starting with 'Crepis' apparently large groups, like Crepis (which has 200 species worldwide) are often split into sub-groups.

 Stace is using the term 'phyllaries' instead of 'involucral bracts' so from now, I am changing over to this term as it is more precise, rather than use just the word 'bracts'.

Crepis paludosa with phyllaries highlighted.
Crepis mollis with phyllaries highlighted.

Hawkweed at Allendale Town

The main point is that the crepis species here,
does not clearly have two rows of phyllaries, with the outer row being adpressed and of different lengths.
As a main differentiator, this feature is a failure as far as I am concerned. See highlighted phyllaries in photos.

Both Crepis paludosa and Crepis mollis have phyllaries with prominent dark hairs with glandular tips. The hawkweed phyllaries do not have obvious glandular hairs however if you look very closely, a few can be found.  Marsh Hawksbeard sometimes can lack the glandular tips  on these hairs so it's not an absolute ID feature. The Northern Hawksbeard according to Sell, always has glandular hairs on the phyllaries.
The dark hairs on the Marsh Hawksbeard (C. paludosa) are very long and definitely look for dangerous from an insect's point of view!.

My first Northern Hawksbeard.

C. mollis near Allendale Town. 17th July 2019
1) Basal Leaves.
C. mollis lower leaf, not the best example of impressed veining.
C. mollis, basal leaf with impressed veining and slightly more pointed apex.

C. mollis  lowerl leaf underside paler and hairy. 

The lower basal leaf shape is elliptical with a blunt end, entire in that it has no protrusions or lobes on the margin unlike the hieracium which has toothed edges. This particular leaf above is not showing the impressed vein pattern that the Cumbria blog suggest is a typical feature, but this could be down to variation and lighting conditions. The next photo below shows this feature a bit better.

C. mollis, lower leaf showing leaf surface impressed veining.
Note the pale midrib and the leaf shape narrowing down to a narrowly-winged petiole. Next compare with a Hieracium leaf from a plant growing 15m up the road from the C. mollis.

Hieracium basal leaf with pointed tip.

Main difference is the toothed margin and the way the leaf does not taper down to a winged petiole.
The teeth may be more or less developed. The tip is pointed unlike the rounded end to the C. mollis basal leaf.

Hieracium lower leaf underside, paler and hairy. Flat without impressed veins.
2) Mid-stem leaves.
While on the subject of leaves , next up are mid stem leaves.
C. Mollis, mid stem leaf.

C. mollis, mid stem leaf with Semi-amplexicaul base. Note hairs on
stem and leaf, can be sparse but not present on C. paludosa.
The mid stem leaves partly clasp the stem, no leaf stalk. This is called a Semi-amplexicaul base.  It does not have large backward pointing lobes ( auriculate) that Marsh Hawksbeard has but the difference is the extent, rather than the feature than both share.
Note the tiny red protrusions which are hydathodes which are spaced along the leaf margin and can give a slight toothed edge to the margin but not to the extent of the most Hieracium toothed edges.
C. mollis mid stem leaf with leaf margin just running into the stem.
C.mollis mid stem leaf with auricles.

This blog is comparing the Hawkweed seen growing with the Allendale Northern Hawksbeards in two locations. At other sites different Hawkweeds may be found that are more difficult to separate.
As always, if more than one feature is used it helps to confirm identity.

Hieracium mid-stem leaf, toothed margin prominent.
Hieracium Upper leaf showing no clasping to the stem. 

Hieracium mid stem leaf showing semi-amplexicaul clasping of the stem.
As usual just when you think you have found a reliable feature to separate these species you find an example that makes it more complicated. This photo above is a Hieracium with a mid stem leaf showing semi-amplexicaul clasping of the stem. This is not really surprising as the Hieracium group is split into several hundred variants all of which have slightly different characteristics, plus there is variation as well within a microspecies. Nearly all have the toothed leaf margins to a greater or lesser extent.

(Some versions of Hieracium have leaves with almost no teeth on the leaf margins and have the semi-amplexicaul base, so could be very confusing, especially if you rely on leaf shape alone. These hawkweeds ( e.g. Hieracium prenanthoides) have many more stem leaves, usually more than 15 compared with sparse 3-4 stem leaves on C.mollis. )

In conclusion, the C. mollis have basal leaves that are rounded/blunt ended without the teeth of the Hieracium, have a narrowly-winged petiole and can have impressed veining. Mid-stem leaves do not have the margin teeth that Hieracium or Marsh Hawksbeard have. Note some C. mollis mid stem leaves can have the odd tooth.   

3) Pappus and achenes.
 Next feature mentioned in the Cumbria blog is that C. mollis has very pure white pappus hairs.

C. mollis pappus hairs bright white.
Hieracium at Allendale Town.
These photos don't quite show the difference but you can just see the left flower head on the hieracium is not the pure shinning white that C. mollis displays. In real life there was a difference if you could directly compare the two species.

C.mollis showing pure shinning white pappus hairs.
C. mollis achenes, 
The achenes are brown, banana shaped in that they are curved and taper down at each end.
No sign of beaking and with tiny ribbing, should be 20.  Ribbing can be uneven.
Pappus hairs have tiny barbs , same in C. paludosa.

Achene with 10 ribs showing, 20 total

Hieracium achenes, dark brown and pappus hairs not pure white.

These Hieracium achenes are typical of all the Hieracium I have ever seen, not that I am very familiar with this complex group. Typically they are very dark and only slightly curved. Main feature is that the abrupt pappus end is not tapered at all. The ribbing is uneven and I counted ten ribs only.

Conclusion. The Cumbria blog is very keen on the achene difference as being totally distinctive in terms of achene shape . Interestingly they show Hieracium achenes that are brown in colour, so achene colour may not be as useful as I thought, having believed all Hieracium had almost black achenes. With achene shape and the leaf shape conforming to the Cumbria blog, I left happy that I had seen Northern Hawksbeard plus an interesting but similar Hawkweed.

4) Flowers.

C. mollis, showing two pronged stigma and styles are not pure yellow- more greenish.
C. mollis showing the stigma but very little of the style as it's enclosed in the stamen/anther.
The first photo shows the style well extended from the anther structure but in the second close up the anther structure almost comes up to the stigma.  The anther structure has five red stripes which is a feature shared with Marsh Hawksbeard Crepis paludosa on some flowers. The style will grow in length as the flower develops pulling the pollen from the anther tube. The style arms split and curve round to eventually touch the top of the anther tube where its own pollen is and in self compatible species may pollinate themselves should cross-pollination fail.

C. mollis, phyllaries with glandular hairs.

Hieracium Flower showing stigma slightly darker than petals.

Hieracium from Sinderhope site, with anther structure yellow and slightly darker stigma.

Hieracium from Sinderhope site.

The hawkweeds seen all had two or three stem leaves. Leaves had thin simple hairs on the margins and lower surface, a few simple hairs on the upper surface. I did not see any stellate hairs on the leaves.
Detail of hairs on phyllaries showing long black (but white tipped) non glandular hairs plus a few short glandular hairs.
Glandular hairs are hard to see, outnumbered by the long eglandular hairs but stellate hairs are numerous.   I think this conforms with the suggestion in the Cumbria blog, that this is a Hieracium vulgatum , Common Hawkweed.   However the hawkweeds did look slightly different between Allendale and Sinderhope so more help would be needed. Maybe next season but probably not, as the Hawkweeds are the most difficult group, with the possible exception of the other apomictic group, the dandelions. I have lots of much easier flowers to learn first.
There is a good overview of Crepis mollis on the BSBI website  , see
Shining white pappus hairs
on C. Mollis
Off white pappus hairs on Hawkweed

The End
24th January 2020
Peter G Leonard.