Tuesday 22 November 2016

Red Helleborine Restoration Group Send Thanks

This is a kind of guest post, in the form of an email that I received recently from Peter Chapman, who is the chairman of the Red Helleborine Restoration Group. I've been working with the group the last couple of years to facilitate their research in France, with the aim of saving the critically endangered Red Helleborine Cephalanthera rubra in Britain. I was chuffed to bits to get this email, and I reproduce it here with Peter's permission.

Hi Susan,

For my sins, I am the chairman of the above group which was created just over 10 years ago. Since that time we have seen highs and lows in our efforts to persuade the U.K. sites to provide more plants - and flowers! Although we have learnt much during that time, we are still 'nursing' the sites along to retain as many plants as possible, for as long as possible.

It has now become clear that if we are to make any significant progress we must rely on our colleagues at Kew Gardens to find out more about this species. As our own plants are very reluctant to produce any seed at all, we must now rely on material that we can obtain in Europe - hence our contact with you by David Armstrong and his team last year, and, of course, Jon Kendon and his colleagues this year.

We have 2 meetings a year and have just had our 'autumn' meeting for 2016 last week (later than usual because I went out to Australia - Melbourne - to see my daughter who lives and works there). During last week's meeting, Jon told us all about his visit to you in June, and the progress that he is making with the material he collected at the time as well as the seed that you were able to get sent to him since his visit. I must say that he is delighted with the progress being made, although he has a lot of work still to do, of course. The seeds have proved to be 10% viable, which may sound pretty low, but in fact is fairly typical for this species, I understand.

My purpose for writing to you is to send you a big 'Thank You' for all your hard work on our behalf to enable the material to be obtained, and thereby enabling us to, hopefully, make considerable progress in our efforts this side of the Channel. It is so good to know that we have such a good and helpful contact just in the right spot in France. I hope that our efforts will do justice to all your hard work over this last year or so. I am sure that Jon will keep you in touch with his progress.

My visit to Australia was to see my daughter, but I did manage to visit two orchid areas out there. Unfortunately their spring has been cold and wet, and all orchids were about a month late in flowering - Sun Orchids, for instance, were just in bud by Mid-October! C'est la vie!

I have been able to read your blog report about Jon's visit, and am so pleased that all your hard work was so successful in the end. Please accept the sincere thanks of all the members of the group.

Kind regards and best wishes,


For my other posts about the Red Helleborine see here:

A Perfect Day in Panzoult

Saving the Red Helleborine

Red Helleborine Research Report

Kew Comes to the Vallée de la Claise Tourangelle

An Updated From the Lab Bench


Solidarity Matters: Huub sent us a link to Noam Chomsky's Requiem for the American Dream recently and I finally got round to watching it yesterday. I recommend it if you have an hour and a bit to spare for its stance on American politics, business and inequality today and for its insights into the historical background for all of this. My take home quote isn't one of Noam's though. It comes from paraphrasing John Dewey I believe -- 'Policy is the shadow of corporate business over society'.


Loire Valley Nature: A new entry for the pretty pea Bitter Vetch Lathyrus linifolius has been added.


Australia on France 2: chm has emailed me to say that France 2 is showing a 5 part series on Australia on their Journal de 13 heures this week. The programme will follow a road train driver as he drives across the country from east to west, across the Nullabor Plain. So if you want to practice your French, see some Australian desert scenes and you can get France 2, go for it. My sister and her husband have just come back from the Nullabor.


A la cuisine hier: Tomato, sweet corn and red kidney bean stew with corn muffins from the freezer.

Chicken breasts rubbed with salt and Asian spices, served with mixed mash from the freezer.


Sheila said...

How nice of Peter to send you an update on the progress at Kew. Hopefully, they have been successful in keeping the fungi growing so that the seeds which have sprouted will have the best of conditions in which to thrive.

Susan said...

I assume the fungi has already been used to help germinate the seeds and will grow with them. I'll check with Jon.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Susan... a thought occurred to me yesterday, as we drove back from the French class...
In the UK the Red Hollie is associated with beechwood edges.... here, with hornbeams...a wood that, once, grew alongside beech in many areas...
Where I was, for example, when I started in forestry....beech was the tree...but there was the odd, ex-coppiced hornbeam.
In the UK, the hornbeam timber was beloved by millwrights for gear teeth and by artisans for tool handles...especially navvies... it was the English hickory!! But since the turn of the 1900s... hornbeam fell to the side, replaced by other, easier worked and ALMOST as strong timber...
Beech never fell out of favour and was actively planted in the interwar era...and the almost continuously closed canopy precludes much self-seeding...especially of plants, like hornbeam that prefer light....
Which is a longwinded way of saying....what is the tree history of the sites where the Red Hellies occur un the UK?
Could you ask Jon if they've looked into this....are they hanging on because they were there at the turn of the last century in what may have then been a more mixed woodland?

Susan said...

I will ask Jon (and David, who is more likely to know that sort of info). BTW, the orchid is associated here with Downy Oak, not Hornbeam, on sites which I think are probably unsuitable for much else (except Juniper).

Le Pré de la Forge said...

That is another species that was for a long time grown in the UK...but is now rare...it is not one I know the specific uses of, but the same applies...fell out of favour, felled out of existence in favour of other wood, like beech, that had commercial value. But associated with the same conditions!

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Either way, my personal suspicion and view is the UK populations are relict...hanging on in there because plants just want to make more plants!!

Post a Comment