Monday, 4 April 2016

Purple Saxifrage, Ingleborough

It's the time of year for flowering purple saxifrage Saxifraga oppositifolia so we decided to spend the day looking for it on Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Ingleborough is made up of layers of sandstone and limestone, topped by a cap of hard millstone grit, which is what gives the mountain it's distinctive flat topped appearance. Purple saxifrage is a limestone loving species, which on Ingleborough grows exclusively on the thin layer of limestone just below the summit cap. At 2,415ft (736m), Ingleborough is the second highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales, so just getting to the limestone layer is challenge enough, but we made a round walk of it which ended up in about a 10 mile walk. Add to that the fact that although the species flowers at sometime in April, each year is different, sometimes we have a cold spring, in other years it might be a mild spring. Therefore it's perfectly possible to climb the mountain and find the plant but discover that you are a week too early and it's not flowering yet, or a week too late to find that it's nearly gone to seed.

I managed to find  the saxifrage easily enough, in fact there was quite a lot of it, and it was nearing full flower, unlike my last visit here five years ago when it was nearly over. A splendid saxifrage, well worth the effort! Also today I managed to find the limestone loving fern, green spleenwort Asplenium viride.

There were plenty of wheatears today, my first of the year, and a single red grouse, but no ring ouzels or Emperor moths.

Year: 183 (Wheatear)

Purple saxifrage.

Green spleenwort



The geological layers of Ingleborough.

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