Not just aggregates…

Source: Knapp, Alan. “Not just aggregates….” Sussex Botanical Recording Society Newsletter, no. 68 (May 2009).


We need to improve the recording of subspecies and closely related species of some fairly common plants which are often simply recorded as aggregates but which, with a little care, can easily be separated. So, please take the time to separate them if you can and submit records for the individual subspecies/species rather than just the aggregate:

Aphanes arvensis and A. australis. Only possible reliably for plants well in flower – vegetative differences are not very reliable.

Areneria serpyllifolia and A. leptoclados. A.leptoclados seems to be rarer than we thought so please check all specimens. Capsule shape is probably the most straightforward character for separating them. If unsure, and there is plenty at the site, take a sample (must include well-formed capsules) and send to Alan Knapp.

Erophila verna. Try to record the separate species E. verna sens str. and E. glabrescens rather than just Erophila verna agg.  The species are poorly recorded as most recorders have not bothered to separate them and we need to get better records. If you are unsure about identifying them, and the population allows it, collect a good sample and send to Alan Knapp. Please make a note on the fresh material of how far down the petals the notch extends (clearly less then half way, close to half way or clearly more than half way) and send that information with the sample. NB there is a third species, E. majuscula, which has not so far been recorded in Sussex but could possibly be present.

Galium palustre subsp. palustre and subsp. elongatum. Subsp. elongatum is almost certainly under-recorded. Look carefully at any specimens with longer leaves (subsp. elongatum has most leaves >20mm), longer pedicels and large flowers (see Stace key for details).

Hieracium species Please try to identify species but take great care as they are a difficult group. If in any doubt, and the population allows, send a sample of a whole plant (bits and pieces are no good) to Rod Stern, who is happy to identify them.

Veronica hederifolia subsp. hederifolia and subsp. lucorum. Best to look at several characters and do not use leaf shape alone. A useful extra character mentioned in vol. 3 of Sell & Murrell’s new Flora, but not in Stace, is style length: <=0.5mm in subsp. lucorum and >=0.7mm in subsp. hederifolia.