Botanical Notes No. III. (1906)

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Author(s): Saunders. Helen; Year published: 1906; Origin: DA Transactions; Pages: 491-496
Topic(s): botany; Location(s): Bideford, Sidmouth, South Molton, and Teignmouth

By Helen Saunders. (Read at Lynton, July, 1906 and published in Transactions Vol 38, 1906 pp. 491–6)

Continuing the plan I have hitherto adopted, I do not intend to record plants which are generally common in Devon, or which have been mentioned in my former papers, unless there is some particular interest attached to them.


Mr. Evans, formerly Master of the United Service College at Westward Ho, published in 1881 his hand-list of plants occurring within seven miles of the College, and added supplementary pages in 1881, 1883, 1886, and another in 1894, for which the radius was extended in some directions to twelve or thirteen miles; therefore, no doubt, the list contained all the wild flowers of the neighbourhood of Bideford. But I must mention some I have observed there which I have not previously reported in my notes.

  • Papaver dubium – Long-headed poppy.
  • Fumaria pallidiflora – Pale-flowered fumitory.
  • Cochlearia danica – Danish scurvy grass.
  • Erysimum orientale (Westward Ho) – Hare’s-ear cabbage.
  • Sinapis alba – White mustard.
  • S. nigra – Common mustard.
  • Lepidium perfoliatum – Perforated pepperwort.
  • Viola Curtisii – Sea pansy.
  • Lychnis vespertina – Evening campion.
  • Sagina maritima – Sea pearl-wort.
  • Erodium maritimum – Sea stork’s-bill.
  • Trifolium hybridum – Alsike clover.
  • Anthyllis vulneraria, var. coccinea – Lady’s fingers.
  • Rosa stylosa – Columnar-styled dog-rose.
  • Carum Carui (Fremington) – Caraway.
  • Valerianella dentata – Narrow-fruited lamb’s lettuce.
  • Artemisia maritima – Sea wormwood.
  • Senecio squalidus – Inelegant ragwort.
  • Glaux maritima – Sea milkwort.
  • Beta maritima – Sea beet.
  • Triglochin palustre (Mr. Evans) – Marsh arrowgrass.
  • T. maritimum – Sea arrowgrass.
  • Carex pendula – Great pendulous sedge.
  • Calamagrostis Epigeios (Fremington) – Wood small-reed.
  • Phragmites communis – Common reed.
  • Sclerochloa rigida – Hard meadow-grass.
  • Triticum acutum – Decumbent sea couch-grass.

It seems to me that the charming little plant Senecio squalidus deserves a better title, being a pretty as well as rare plant growing on bare walls and rocks, attracting admiration by its bright yellow florets rising from a cup-shaped involucre, with leaves, some drooping and others erect. The only reported British stations are Oxford, Berkshire, Warwick, and Cork. It is said to be a native of Sicily. It was first published in Oxford by Paul Boccone in 1674 in his book of the rare plants of Sicily. It was discovered at Bideford about 1842. As Linnaeus so named it in his “Species Plantarum”, published in August, 1753, and also quoted in his earlier work, “Hortus Upsaliensis” (1749), we must allow he had a good reason for doing so. Mr. Hiern considers it to be on account of its peculiar odour; and although I have not noticed anything unpleasant about it myself, it is, no doubt, disagreeable to some persons. It is sometimes called Oxford ragwort.

I found Lepidium perforatum near the sea at Westward Ho; it is, no doubt, an alien and only recently introduced. I have not heard of its having been discovered at any other station in the county.


I am sorry I had very little time for collecting specimens at Sidmouth, which locality possesses a rich flora. I refer those who wish to become acquainted with it to Mr. W. H. Cullen’s “Flora Sidostiensis”, in which he has recorded many plants which are rare in the county of Devon.

On the rocks by the sea I noticed Daucus maritimus, which Professor Babington placed as a synonym of Daucus Carota. It is found on the sea-coasts of Devon and Cornwall, but it seems to be rare in other counties.

In Harpford Wood, a short distance from the railway station, I observed an Ajuga of an unusual form, but not having secured a good specimen, it could not be named with certainty.

I gathered Sagina maritima, sea pearlwort, and many other flowers which are common in the county and have been reported from other places.


The flora of Teignmouth has been fully reported in Ravenshaw’s “Flowering Plants of Devonshire” and in the “Handbook to the Flora of Torquay”, by Robert Stewart, published in 1860. Miss Larter has also written a charming and descriptive book on the plants growing wild in the neighbourhood of Torquay for many miles in all directions (“Manual of the Flora of Torquay”, published in 1900).

  • Raphanus maritimus – Sea radish
  • Silene maritima – Sea campion.
  • Oxalis corniculata – Yellow wood sorrel.
  • Medicago sativa (two shades) . Common Lucerne.
  • Trifolium suffocatum – Dense-flowered trefoil.
  • T. subterraneum (Dawlish) – Subterranean clover.
  • Vicia bithynica – Bithynian vetch.
  • Lathyruis Nissolia – Grass pea.
  • L. sylvestris – Everlasting pea.
  • Sedum glaucum (albescens) – Glaucous stonecrop (Mr. Griffith).
  • Scabiosa columbaria – Small scabious.
  • Inula conyza – Ploughman’s spikenard.
  • Salanum marinum – Sea nightshade, bitter-sweet.
  • Utricularia vulgaris – Common bladderwort.
  • Chenopodium murale – Nettle-leaved goosefoot.
  • Atriplex arenaria – Sand orache.
  • Trichonema Columnae (Romulea) Columna’s trichonema.
  • Lemna gibba – Gibbons duckweed.
  • Sclerochloa loliacea (Poa) . Darnel wheat-grass.
  • Triticum pungens – Seashore wheat-grass.
  • Hordeum maritimum – Sea barley.

I have gathered Romulea Columnae early in the spring on Dawlish Warren. It is very rare in England; Dawlish is almost the only station. It is found in Jersey and Guernsey, and has been reported from Cornwall. It is a small plant of the order Iridaceae, having flowers of a pinkish-violet shade, with darker stripes, yellow anthers, and very slender leaves.

Illecebrum verticillatum is mentioned by Ravenshaw as growing in Devon by the Dart and on the east side of Shute Hill, near Axminster; but I do not know if this has been confirmed by other botanists. It has been recorded from Braunton Burrows and from Looe and Marazion in Cornwall, and I have been lately informed that it is still to be found in the marshes near the latter place.

South Molton

The discovery of thirty-three plants growing wild in this neighbourhood, including Molland, Knowstone, and Romansleigh, since July, 1901, has increased the number to 603. They are : —

  • Fumaria muralis – Rampant fumitory.
  • F. Boraei – Borean’s fumitory.
  • Brassica Napus – Rape, cole seed.
  • Spergula sativa – Corn spurrey.
  • Malva borealis (pusilla) – Small-flowered mallow.
  • Geranium striatum (versicolor) – The painted lady.
  • Ulex Gallii – Planchon’s furze.
  • Melilotus parviflora (indica) – Small-flowered melUot.
  • Trifolium striatum – Soft-knotted trefoil.
  • T. agrarium – Golden trefoil.
  • Spiraea Ulmaria (double-flowered) – Meadow sweet.
  • Agrimonia odorata – Fragrant agrimony.
  • Pyrus communis – Wild pear.
  • Callitriche stagnalis – Water starwort (Romansleigh).
  • Peplis Portula – Water purslane.
  • Epilobium angustifolium, var. brachycarpum – Rose-bay.
  • E. montanum, a variety of, or perhaps E. duriaei.
  • E. roseum – Pale smooth-leaved willow-herb.
  • Peucedanum sativum – Common parsnip.
  • Gnaphalium sylvaticum – Upright cudweed (Romansleigh).
  • Petasites fragrans – Winter heliotrope.
  • Hieracium murorum, var. crebridens – Wall hawkweed.
  • Euphrasia nemorosa (per Mr. Hiern) – Wood eyebright.
  • Lamium maculatum – Spotted dead nettle.
  • Scleranthus annuus – Annual knawel.
  • Vinca major (probably an escape) – Larger periwinkle.
  • Lilium Martagon – Turk’s-cap lily.
  • Juncus bulbosus (supinus) in a viviparous state – Lesser-pointed rush.
  • J. bufonius, var. fasciculatus . Toad-rush.
  • Scirpus setaceus – Slender club-rush (Romansleigh).
  • Carex Goodenovii – A. sedge (do.).
  • C. binervis – Green-ribbed sedge.
  • Lastrea, a variety near glandulosa.

Lilium Martagon, which was found in North Molton parish, is, no doubt, a garden escape, although growing apparently wild and, as I was informed, self-sown where I discovered it.

Epilobium roseum seems to be very rare in North Devon, but as in appearance it much resembles E. montanum and growing as a garden weed, it has probably been passed over or rooted up before flowering. It differs from E. montanum in having an entire stigma, leaves mostly alternate with longer petioles, and two or four raised lines on the stem.

Epilobium angustifolium, var. brachycarpum, flourishes in a wood in the parish of Knowstone; it differs from the more common form macrocarpum in having root-stocks with long stolens, pistils one-quarter longer than the stamens, and the capsules very much shorter and spreading.

Scleranthus annuus I had previously discovered at Okehampton; it seems to be a rare plant in North Devon, but not having an attractive appearance, it may have been passed unobserved. Mr. Hiern has reported it from Countisbury.

An account of the discovery of Hieracium crebridens on Sheepwash Hill, Molland, has been given in the “Journal of Botany” for August, 1904.

Petasites fragrans, although not indigenous in Britain, grows so wild where it is established as to become a troublesome weed, especially in shrubberies, where it destroys other plants. It flowers in January. It is termed the winter heliotrope, from the resemblance of its perfume to that of the true heliotrope of gardens, which belongs to quite another family (the Borage).

Mimulus moschatus, which I reported in 1894, still maintains its position. I have seen a considerable quantity of it lately growing on the banks of a stream a short distance from the town, and it also grows by the River Mole some distance away. The species now known as Mimulus Langsdorffii (Donn’s monkey-flower) flourishes near the same place. In my list of plants growing wild in the parish of South Molton I recorded it as Mimulus luteus, which name is now considered incorrect.

For the year 1906 I am able to add seven discoveries, making the total 610 : —

Ophioglossum vulgatum in the parish of Charles, near the habitat of the daffodil, Narcissus eystettensis.

Nasturtium siifolium (Filleigh), Alyssum alyssoides (Charles).

Orobanche major (great broomrape) which is a parasitical plant growing on the roots of leguminous plants, chiefly broom or furze.

Silene Cucubalus, var. puberula (bladder campion).

Vicia angustifolia, probably var. Bobartii (common vetch), and a bramble “with rather large white flowers, namely, the dewberry, or perhaps a hybrid of it with another, and approaching in character the bramble R. Balfourianus.”

I had little opportunity for botanizing on Dartmoor last July, but I have recorded some of the plants found in that district under Okehampton, I must, however, mention a beautiful luminous moss, Schistostega pennata, which was pointed out to me by Mr. Amery on one of the excursions made from Princetown. My attention was called to a cave or well in a rock in the shape of a cloamen oven of rather large dimension, which was lined with an even layer of fine moss. The sun was shining across the cave and giving it a splendid metallic appearance, which is said to be caused by the reflection of the light by the minute cells of the young branches or threads. This moss is found near Nottingham and in Lancashire and in other parts of England, but it is rare in Devonshire.

The Public Botanical Walking Party from Barnstaple made some excursions in this neighbourhood in the year 1905. I accompanied them on several occasions, when some of the above-named plants were discovered. From other parts of North Devon they have added some rare species to the flora.

In conclusion, I beg to thank Mr. Hiern for the kind assistance he has given me.