Category Archives: Non-native species

Lamplighters Marsh

Last week, I visited one of my favourite Bristol plant sites, Lamplighters Marsh. This is the strip of land between the Avonmouth railway line and the River Avon, from the M5 Avon bridge southeast to the former Lamplighters pub. It’s got a mix of habitats: lots of scrub and tall herb, one of Bristol’s few reedbeds, and areas of sparse vegetation (and the tidal Avon, a interesting site in its own right, is right next door). Here are a few photos of the site:

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Among the star plants here are a large population of Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) and a small population of Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria), both scarce plants in the Bristol area. Viper’s Bugloss occurs in a variety of habitat types in Britain: chalk and limestone grassland, at the coast in sand dunes, on shingle or cliffs, and in disturbed open ground such as that found in disused quarries or railway lines. Although Lamplighters Marsh could be described as coastal, the habitat here is more like the last of these, and in the Bristol area, it is not really a coastal plant, although in some parts of Britain it is exactly that. My visit was on a sunny evening and many bumblebees were visiting the plants.


Moth Mullein is an introduced plant. It is distinctive among the mulleins in having large flowers, and not being densely hairy or downy like many mullein species. It occurs in both white-flowered and yellow-flowered forms.  It has been recorded at several other sites in Bristol, but is very scarce away from the city.


Slender Speedwell

This is a patch of Slender Speedwell (Veronica filiformis), which I photographed by the footpath alongside the River Frome near Frenchay this afternoon.

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Like its more common relative, Common Field Speedwell (Veronica persica), Slender Speedwell is not native to Britain. Originally from Turkey, it was introduced into Britain in 1808 as a rock garden plant, although was not widely grown until the 20th Century. It has since become widespread, with the only significant gap in its British distribution being in the highlands of Scotland. In Britain, it is often found as a lawn plant, and tends to spread from mown cuttings, rather than seed.

Like Common Field Speedwell, Slender Speedwell has relatively large (for a speedwell) pale blue flowers, each with a whitish lower petal, and these are arranged singly on the end of long thin stalks (pedicels) arising from the leaf-axils (the point where the leaf-stalk, or petiole, joins the main stem). The pedicels of Slender Speedwell are much longer than those of Common Field: at least twice the combined length of a leaf and its petiole. Also, the leaves are round to kidney-shaped, compared with Common Field’s more oval or pear-shaped leaves. The mat-forming habit and bright green leaves are also good clues to its identity.

For more images of Slender speedwell (and all the other British speedwell species), take a look at the links on the Web Resources page.