Monday, 18 April 2016

It's Dandelion season!

Taraxacum retzii 
Image: Mark Lynes
There's a distinct Dandelion theme going on right now! 

A Dandelion Workshop has been taking place in Somerset over the weekend, led by BSBI's Dandelion expert Prof. John Richards.

Organisers Simon Leach and Steve Parker said: "Taraxacum (Dandelion) is without doubt the least well studied and understood of all our critical genera in Somerset, and records are very patchy. 


Dandelion-hunters in the field
Image: Mark Lynes 
"We know a tremendous amount about our ever-expanding list of Sorbus (Whitebeam) species, but not much at all about our Dandelions. The workshop aims to offer an opportunity for botanists to improve their identification and collecting skills, so they can contribute to our knowledge of dandelions in Somerset". 

Slide from Claudia's Dandelion presentation
Image: Mark Lynes 
I hear the Taraxacophiles have been visiting a range of sites from coastal sand dunes to  acidic grass-heath, including urban sites: many interesting Dandelions can be found in parks and along road verges. They have also been enjoying evening lab sessions to look more closely at specimens collected during the day.

On the Friday, Claudia Ferguson-Smyth gave the delegates a presentation on Dandelions, a great passion of hers. 

You may have seen her paper the other year in New Journal of Botany, co-authored with John Richards, describing a new species of dandelion on St. Kilda. 

Dandelion workshop with John & Claudia
Image: Mark Lynes
It was named Taraxacum pankhurstianum in honour of Richard Pankhurst, with whom many of us (Claudia and I included) have enjoyed happy days botanising in the Outer Hebrides. 

If you want to head out Dandelion-hunting, this is the time of year to do it! 

You'll need this crib for Dandelions in general and here are the cribs for the various sections:  CelticaErythrosperma; Hamata; Naevosa; Palustria; Ruderalia

Happy hunting!