Saturday, 28 August 2021

The Gentians (Autumn Gentian - G.amarella and the Field Gentian - G.campestris) and their status on Holme Stinted Pastures, Hutton Roof, Cumbria.


(Notes compiled 28th Aug 2021)

Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella)

Plus sub species "Septentrionalis" and local varieties

Photo: Autumn Gentian - 27th August 2021 - Holme Stinted Pastures

We do get Autumn Gentians throughout Hutton Roof, although the bulk of them seem to be on the more North West side known as Holme Stinted Pastures, Holme Park Fell, and areas on the Farleton side of Hutton Roof. I have found them in small quantities on Uberash Roughs, Uberash Breast and also to the East of the Trig Point.

I have found that they are really numerous about every two to three years when their numbers I have recorded in the 3,000 plus plants, but on the quieter in between years I have managed to only find between 50 to 75. So it really is nice when we do have a "special"  Autumn Gentian year, the last being 2020 and prior to that was 2017 and prior to that was 2015. This confirms that the G.amarella has its best years every two to three years.

We have probably got several local varieties of Amarella if the truth be known, or that I could make up with differing features. But the ones which seem to be established are the regular purple/magenta plant, then we do also have a "white petal (corolla) with purple to the back of the petal (corolla)" version which is said to belong to the sub species or Northern race called "Septentrionalis".  Now if we said that all white flowered ones were of this sub-species then we definately have far more of these on Hutton Roof than we do with the purple flowered (probably about 75% white to 25% purple ratio).  But I have noticed that we do occasionally get a very light green/white amarella which are also and probably more defined to be a true "white/cream flowered specimen" BUT are not purple on the back of the petals/sepals (corolla/calyx) like the earlier ones I mentioned. See below for comparisons.

Above shows the regular Purple version of Amarella which will account for 25% of the Autumn Gentians on Hutton Roof.

Below shows the commoner version of Amarella which is white but with purple to the back of the petal (Corolla). This is the one which we probably have around 75% of the Autumn Gentians. This is the sub-species better known as the "Northern Version" officially called "Septentrionalis"

Now below I show yet another "white" flowered amarella version which is more of a true white within the flower (Corolla) and green/white sepals (calyx).  

Below shows the full plant which is a very light version, although you do still get some darker tones usually to the stems (only). And beneath you do see the close up of the "white" flower. These more true white specimens turn up at the rate of maybe 1 per 100 of the regulars. So they are rare but not that rare. It has been suggested that these plants may well lack anthocyanin which is possible, but if that is the case would you still see dark colouration within the stems of the plant, and would a quantity of at least 30 on a good amarella year, taken from a overhall number of 3000 make you wonder whether it is specimens short of anthocyanins or maybe we are missing another sub-species which could even include both! 

(above) shows you a typical example of the rarer true "white" flower. 

(above) are even more examples of 3 true white/green amarella, separate plants all found within a one metre area of Holme Stints on 7th Sept 2021. 

Besides the ones I have already mentioned, I have also found others which are slightly different, not so much in the morphology, but certainly in the colourations of the petals.  Here are several fine examples.

sub species: Septentrionalis with a red (rather than purple) look

The two photos above are showing you a "red version" of septentrionalis which is stunning and occasionally you will see versions where the red has bled through a vertical half of the petal

sub species Septentrionalis with a purple bicolor look

Below: This is a beauty (septentrionalis) I found in 2020 on Holme Park Fell which shows a bicolor look with half the petal in purple, yet the other half is white. There is a small population all close to one another which are similar. I have also found this variant on Holme Stinted Pastures as well but not just as pronounced in depth of colour as the one below, but they do turn up.

Above: shows the outer corolla. 

This photo shows you both the outside and the inside of the petals

 If you look very close at the inner petals you will find this bicolor look on the occasional septentrionalis, though not so strong maybe as the one portrayed in the above photos.
The bicolor look is created from when the corolla tube was still sealed, and when it eventually opened you see it as it is in this photo with a dual colouring, now on the odd occasion when the purple is strong enough it will bleed through the petal and give it that bicolor look. Also you will find that this is represented on both 4 or 5 petals.

(below) "Septentrionalis"
with little purple and green calyx

(above) : Septentrionalis with just a light purple outer and white inner but green sepals (calyx).

(below) Septentrionalis with a regular purple dense colour outer and white inner but green sepals (calyx)

The above is a beauty which I found on Holme Park Fell about 2015 it is a good mixture from Purple all the way down through the blue to white. It is the only specimen I have found with these mixed variations. 

Please check out comparisons and differences below.

Field Gentian (Gentianella campestris)

G. campestris has declined rapidly to what it was before 1930. In its English stronghold, Cumbria, it has disappeared from half the 10-km squares for which there are post-1930 records and it is possible that is still the situation today in 2021.

Photo: Field Gentian - 24th August 2021 - Holme Stinted Pastures

This is a very rare Gentian in Cumbria these days and we are so lucky to have over 300 of these plants all growing on Holme Stinted Pastures to the North West of Hutton Roof. I have as yet not been able to find anymore, anywhere else on Hutton Roof.

There are four sites were they are located with has many as up to 75 plants at one site and the others ranging between 30 to 50 plants. Three of the sites have one thing in common, which is typical of "Gentians", they are very close to tracks and footpaths or areas which have been well trodden in the past, short green grass.

All four sites also have odd specimens of amarella (Autumn Gentian) growing on them, and I can show examples by photos of the species being as close as 2" away from one another (see far below). 

Below are a few photos examples of the plants on Holme Stinted Pastures.

Hybridization between both G. amarella and G. campestris

(below) Is there a hybrid between both amarella and campestris.  The answer at the moment is NO! but after saying that, when you get the species growing so close to one another in some instances as close as 2" it makes you wonder if one day this may well be possible. Check the following photos

(above) are three photos all showing just how close the two species get on Holme Stints (Cumbria)

Some comparison references directly between both
G. Amarella and G. Campestris

Gentianella amarella

(above) You see some of the many variations of amarella. Basically it starts with a deep purple (or magenta) to white and the many shades between.

With regards to G. amarella you will note the flower generally is associated with 5 petals, but does appear to be seen regular with only 4 petals. This situation is noted in both the purple and the white versions of amarella. It is also worth noting that a single plant may hold flowers of both 5 and 4 petals (mixed). 

(above) shows variations in the G.amarella petals going from a magenta (top left) to a  light purple (top right) and then to a bicolor (bottom left) and then to a white with purple back (bottom right). These are shown here on five petal flowers and are equally represented on 4 petal flowers. Shortly I will extend the variant colours to include the "true" white.

(above) This collage shows the association of the actual "bicolor" within the G.amarella.  The first photo shows the almost white flower with the slightest of tints of colour showing division of each petal to a 50/50% (top left), moving on you see the bicolor separations more easily (top right), then you see the look from the outside of the petals (bottom left) and finally you see the corolla from both sides showing the same division of colour(bottom right).

(above) shows examples of G.amarella (on the left sides) and G.camprensis (on the right sides)

And here are some photos showing the habitats of the Holme Stints G. camprensis

"The Bank" (area 1)
both sides of this main track produce campestris, the right hand side (as seen looking at this photo) is the best and can show up to 50 plants. Also this area has amarella up to 300 plants in a "amarella year" outside of a amerella year you would only get up to 20 or so plants. The grass rarely gets above 2 to 3".

"The mini bomb holes, The Windswept Tree and areas to the bottom (south side) of the bomb hole" (Area 2 and 3)

The area above produces around 150 campestris spread out from the area west of the windswept tree and all the grass areas in the photo, obviously nothing growing in the gorse or bracken areas.  The area was only confirmed in 2021 so amarella has not been fully monitored but even in 2021 we have got about 15 showing throughout this area of which 3 are purple whilst 12 are the white septentrionalis. Again short grass rarely getting much higher than 3"

(above)  "Track Left Hand" (Area 4)

Again plants are found on or near to well trodden paths or tracks. Campestris numbering at least 50+ are found here on the path itself and both sides, with a good concentration to the front of the low Juniper bush, also there is another good concentration to all areas behind the Juniper right up to the next bushes shown here (20 metres- linear) or 20 good strides. Up to 5 amarella can be found in this area in good amarella years. 

(above) "Track Right Hand" (Area 5)

Again another area of very short grass up to 3", at the sides of a well trodden path. The area which holds the plants is about 37 linear yards long by say 2 yards wide culminating at the far bush which you see here in the photo. Over this area we would estimate up to 200 campestris and at least 15 amarella.

(above) Windswept Holly Tree with boulders (Area 6)

This area again is short grass but not really on any of the footpaths or tracks, but it is against a slight depression and clearly near to anthills. It is estimated that there are at least 50 campestris at this area. No close amarella. 
When I refer to the shallow depression areas "mini bomb holes and bomb holes" which are really old stone quarry workings from 17th 18th centuries".


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12th Feb 2021 - Just starting to see new growth etc

Thr 11th February 2021 - Early movement and Spring Bird Migration over Burton In Kendal.

Tues 9th February 2021 - Intertwined

17th Dec 2020 - Finding a new Polypodium cambricum on HRoof Crags

Thursday 19th November 2020 - Nice stroll or wander with fabulous wonders and my December copy for the local magazine - SEE BLOG BELOW THESE LINKS.....


Another recent blog on"The best moments of vis so far this year - click here

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The new Orchid book "Britains Orchids" by Sean Cole and Mike Waller - please click this link for details.

Varieties of our local Hutton Roof Gentians and the reason for the 50/50 Purple and White, plus my research survey results. Plus "Upland Enchanters Nightshade (circae x intermedia)

 More Autumn Gentian photos (2020) can be seen here

Northern Greenland Wheatear (Oenanthe o. leucorrhoa)
Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)