August – what’s out and about

Bog aspodel – Narthecium ossifragum. A plant of wet and boggy acid moorlands. Its orange fruits have been used as a colourant to replace saffron. Its Latin name means ‘weak bone’ referring to a belief that eating it caused sheep to develop brittle bones. Eating a calcium-poor diet is a more likely explanation.

Green spleenwort – Asplenium viride. A true mountain specialist, an arctic fern species. Pinnae almost circular and toothed. Locally frequent in areas with limestone rocks. Unlike other Spleenworts it does not normally occur on mortared walls in non-limestone areas.

Lesser clubmoss – Selaginella selaginoides . It is frequently found in wet moorland, particularly in alkaline areas. It is more slender and delicate than other clubmosses and has toothed leaves.

Crowberry – Empetrum nigrum. A heath species of mountainsides replacing the dominant heather and ling above 600m. Acid peatlands, cold coniferous forest, and acidic rocky slopes; widespread across northern boreal forest, north through arctic islands, circumpolar.

Common Cotton grass – Eriophorum angustifolium. Cottongrass or bog cotton is a common sight across the fens and bogs. The flowering stem is 20-70 cm tall, and has three to five cotton-like inflorescences hanging from the top. It is a plant from the sedge (Cyperaceae) family, so even though it looks like a form of grass, technically it is not. It grows in acidic wetlands and peat bogs all over northern parts of Europe, Asia and North America.

Least willow – Salix herbacea. Britains smallest tree! It has adapted to survive in harsh arctic and alpine environments. Its twigs and branches being underground with only the young shoots, leaves and flowers seen it grows to only 6cm tall. Like the rest of the willows, least Willow has both male and female plants. It is the white, fluffy seeds escaping from ripe capsules on the female plant in late summer which draw attention to this woody shrub.

Brittle bladder fern – Cystopteris fragilis. Common in mountain environment. Quite frequent in shady rock crevices and woods, especially on limestone. Stalks have very few scales, apart from at the base, those higher up on the rachis being hair-like. Rachis is black in lower part, then green.

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