Having suffered with a niggling back injury, I decided not to go too far yesterday, so drove out to Barholm, north-east of Stamford, and did a circular walk via Greatford. The first part of the walk was along a public footpath, first through an area of improved grassland and then a rape field. The latter had quite a few arable weeds coming into flower, including dove's-foot crane's-bill Geranium molle, field pansy Viola arvensis and sun spurge Euphorbia helioscopia.
|Fumaria officinalis subsp. wirtgenii|
Fumitories are tricky to identify and I always take a sample back to check. There are two distinct subspecies of Fumaria officinalis, and this one proved to be F.officinalis subsp. wirtgenii, which is the more frequent on light soils in eastern England, and worth looking out for in arable fields on the limestone or sandy soils. The racemes are normally 10-20 flowered, and the spathulate lower petal is truncate at the apex, rather than pointed. The fruits of this one were rather young, but they are about as long as wide (whereas subsp. officinalis has fruits which are wider than long) and often have a distinct apiculus.
|Truncate shape of lower petals of F. officinalis subsp. wirtgenii|
|Fruit shape, with apiculus|
Towards the end of the walk I came across a hedgerow weeping willow. Willows are notoriously difficult to identify, and early in the year the leaf characters are often unreliable. There are two taxa of weeping willow which you're likely to come across - Salix x sepulcralis and S. x pendulina. Fortunately this tree still had its female fruits, and the elongate, conical shape which are much longer than the subtending bracts make this one S. x pendulina.
|Elongate fruits of S. x pendulina|