Species of the Month - April 2011
Townhall Clock, Moschatel
Clock is a unique plant that for a long time was believed to be the only
member of its family. Recently the genera Sambucus (Elder) and Viburnum
(Guelder Rose, etc) have been transferred to its family
(Adoxaceae) as a result
of genetic studies. But the Townhall Clock is very different from
these. It is a small plant with square flowerheads having
one flower on each of the four faces and another one on top. It
flowers in April.
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Sightings so far
8 April - Found a patch 2 x 1 metres on an east-facing slope in an oakwood near Connel. The plants were in full flower but some were distorted by the effects of the rust fungus Puccinia albescens, which only occurs on Adoxa. This was only the second vice-county record for this fungus and appears to be the third furthest north ever.
The picture below shows a stem apparently felled by the fungus, though it could be that the fungus attacked after it became weak for some other reason.
I've added a field for the fungus to the sightings form. Photos can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
16 Apr - following the lnhg Scammadale walk, some of visited a gully where Townhall Clock grows and found it in good shape, spread over an area at least 6 x 3 metres and probably much more (access was difficult and time short). No rust fungus was found on the plants. It was growing with the equally uncommon Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage, among a carpet of the common Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage.
29 Apr - found an unexpected patch of it near Kilninver, not previously recorded there. Habitat was unusual as it was partly under bracken (which is not up at this time of year) and also partly sheltered by a boulder and by old tufts of Scaly Male Fern (which do remain up over winter). The patch was about 4 x 1 metres but there was only one flowering shoot. It had a very small amount of the rust fungus. It was growing with Goosegrass, Celandine and Marsh Hawksbeard. Many woodland flowers grow happily under bracken because it gives them light in the spring just like woods do, and shade later on to stop competing vegetation. This patch didn't look as happy as the Scammadale patch though.
Note you can still send in records for past species of the month. Here is the list of species we've had so far:
Mar 2011 - Frogspawn