Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sand and shingle - the soft coast

The first of the habitats includes ten species that are commonly (more or less) found on many of Orkney's soft coasts - the least common is Oysterplant one of the county's flagship flowers that is really only locally common on Sanday and South Ronaldsay.

Plate 1
Oysterplant, Cleavers, Sea Rocket, Sea Campion, Curled Dock

Plate 2
Sea Sandwort, Orache sp, Silverweed, Perennial Sowthistle, Sea Mayweed

And this is how the text should look for one of the shore's prettiest flowers Sea Campion

Sea Campion (Silene uniflora)
Dead Man’s Bells, Dead Man’s Hatties, Witches’ Thimbles        
Campion family
Height to 20cm; flowers May to July. Very widespread and abundant in Orkney (25/28) and around Britain’s coasts (750/2852) but absent from most of the coastline of northeast England.

Restricted to the coast and occurring from sea level driftline to cliff top grassland, this white flowered perennial has waxy leaves and an inflated calyx. It is a sprawling plant and likely to be found cascading over shingle or tumbling down near-vertical cliff faces; the latter habit resulting in two of its vernacular names Dead Man’s Bells and Dead Man’s Hatties – so named because of the inherent danger in attempting to gather a posy. It was never picked and never brought into the house possibly to discourage children from endangering themselves on the cliffs. Because of its ability to tolerate high levels of nutrient enrichment, white cushions of Sea Campion may be abundant in seabird colonies.

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