A message from Ian:
May be of interest to you: Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, identified by Lindsay Moore [County Recorder Flora]. Ali and I found it along the stream near the bridge at the bottom of the Blackthorn Tunnel. I’ve added it to the Census. Unusual, probably from some bird dropping seed.
Jerusalem artichoke is a species of sunflower native to the eastern side of North America but we are happy to welcome it to the park. It is a late season flower, a compositae with a flower-head made of many florets, a rich source of nectar and pollen for our autumn invertebrates. Late flowering, it produces late seeds, held high on tall stems: food for the park’s finches.
The seed that produced this plant was probably brought to the park by a bird, but now that it’s here, its tuberous roots will spread easily through the deep, damp soil by the stream. The spring’s pollarding of the willows along the path have let in more light and encouraged all kinds of plants to germinate at the edge of the wood.
The removal of the park’s ragwort leaves a gap in the late-summer flora which we worry about because the butterflies and other nectar feeders that over-winter in their adult form need autumn sources of nectar to fuel their hibernation. We have been discussing with the Countryside Team the possibility of planting late flowering species but it seems the park has pre-empted us.
Pictures by Ian Bushell
Late season flowers:
and hibernating butterflies: