We had a perfect spring day for our first SLFG meeting at Skellingthorpe Old Wood. This is one of the most varied and botanically interesting woods in VC53, and it did not disappoint. The late spring meant that many of the woodland flowers were still at their best, including plenty of Early Purple-orchid and an abundance of both Water Avens and its hybrid with Wood Avens, Geum x intermedium.
Prior to the meeting I identified seven Rare Plant register species to look out for, and while most of the sedges remained elusive, we did discover two populations of Pill Sedge the first of which was growing at our lunch stop alongside other acid-loving species including both subspecies of Heath Rush, Tormentil, Heath Speedwell and possible be Trailing Cinquefoil though a later visit will be necessary to confirm.
Other target species recorded were two plants of Butterfly Orchid, not quite in flower, along the path at the western edge of the wood; a small population of Marsh Valerian on the edge of a damp ride and, most exciting of all, a healthy stand of Bitter-vetch in the south-west corner of the wood, a very long way from the previous grid-reference, and in a completely different monad! Skellingthorpe Old Wood is the only site in VC53 for this largely northern and western species.
The more intrepid botanists were able to confirm the continued presence of Herb-paris in the south-western part of the wood, a colony first discovered on the BSBI field trip in April 2016, but now much more inaccessible due to ride-side coppicing. Lily-of-the-valley was also found at several locations in that part of the wood, some flowering nicely.
A very successful first trip and great to see everyone again after such a long break - I just hope the weather is similarly good for our next trip to the Ancaster area at the end of June.