Friday, 7 August 2020

Three finds that have pleased me

I revisited Carney Commons on 1st August, hoping to find the Fragrant Orchids which were not yet in flower on my last visit. I was successful, though there were not so many as I usually see. 

Until the last few years all native Fragrant Orchids were assigned to the species Gymnadenia conopsea. Then they were divided into 3 subspecies: ssp conopsea, ssp borealis and ssp densiflora. Now following more research and DNA sequencing these subspecies are recognised as good species. G. conopsea (Common Fragrant Orchid) is found in dry meadows, G. borealis (Heath Fragrant Orchid) in upland heath and pastures, and G. densiflora (Dense-flowered Fragrant Orchid) in marshes and fens. I identified the plants I found as G. densiflora from the shape of the sidelobes of the flowers, and this was confirmed to me from a photo by a more experienced botanist. Although it is recorded around Tullamore and Mullingar, and around Adare, it has not been recorded before in North Tipperary. I'm rather chuffed! I should report it to the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. 

Unusual white form of Lesser Knapweed, Centaurea nigra found on Carney Commons

I also found this unusual white form of Knapweed growing on the Common. I've never found one before, but a number of its thistle family relatives regularly sport such white flowers.

Comma butterfly at rest in Dromineer Garden on 25 July 2020

Lastly, to my delight I have spotted a Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album) in my garden several times recently. When I was a child this was a rare butterfly found only in the Welsh Borders. Since then it has spread throughout England and Wales. In 2000 it arrived in Co Wexford, from which it has been spreading North and West. Now it has reached Dromineer on the Shannon in North Tipperary - long may it flourish with us!

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