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Spiranthes romanzoffiana

Irish Lady’s Tresses

2019 COUNT

ENLARGE (marked Images)
L E G E N D  Total number of specimens seen and recorded. An RGB marking system has been used with Red Pins being used for the start of the season and Blue Pins for the end of the season. Efforts have been made to avoid duplication by eliminating subsequent records that are ‘too’ close to original records. However, most records are for different plants as it is often up to 3 weeks between visits and any new plants will be conspicuously fresh and may be slightly different in their place on the shore. We suspect that the later plants may be from older roots and the early plants may be first year plants? L O C A T I O N S: A: Drummin Bay Lough Cullin  Running from Car Park 1 (nearest to Foxford) to south side of Pontoon Bridge. Numbers = 199 Observations Drummin Bay is a  peaceful site with the usual good numbers and good growing conditions until c. August 25th. Further west towards Pontoon Bridge we were pleased to record very good numbers in a site that is persistently grazed by cattle or a small numbers of horses. B: Massbrook Harbour and Terrybaun shoreline.  Running from the busy angling base with many boats to Terrybaun and the south shore of L. Conn to Pontoon Numbers = 102 Observations The Massbrook shoreline produced its usual good numbers of of specimens along most of its length. Most specimens were found before the area flattened some years previously but this area is now looking promising perhaps for future colonisation. East of that ‘new territory’ as far as Terrybaun produced good numbers mostly in sandy/grassy patches along the otherwise stony shore. This new location added 46 records to our yearly total. C: Lower West Shore of L. Conn. A continuous stretch of shore from Massbrook northwards to Addergoole Cemetery. Numbers = 185 Observations This is the area that produced striking evidence of a North American source of this rare member of Ireland’s flora. It contains many Spiranthes in two sections with the middle part  now bare of specimens due to shore scrub clearance. An exciting area with often dense groups of orchids and a wide range of niches along a bouldery shore with the plants sometimes occurring in sandy areas at low water and other specimens found in the back shore among bushes and larger boulders. The lower shore plants (2017) were dispersed in a continuous line reflecting the shape of the shore. Unfortunately many of those seedlings have not re-appeared but the larger plants have survived. D: The Lagoon and surrounding pasture, north L. Conn.  A small lagoon on a large bay between Crossmolina and the Deel River. Numbers = 114 Observations A site we discovered in 2015 which has always yielded good numbers or orchids alongside the small meandering streams draining the flooded area but also in among taller grasses and bushes. This year, for the first time, cattle had broken in and done considerable damage. But we suspect that this was despite the farmers best efforts to protect the area over many years; the cattle had travelled a long route to feast on these orchids! This area could make a good conservation zone as it is unowned, of little use for farming, and brilliant for S. romanzoffiana. E: Inlet south of Knockmore, east shore of L. Conn.  A small inlet south of …. was the only area producing records on the east shore. Numbers = 16 Observations An old site used for some genetic research on this species by the Botanic Gardens. For many years it has produced few records and this years numbers were the best we have every seen. All records are from sandy shore, or grazing areas near the shore ,or in shallow water among reeds. An exposed shoreline north of the inlet looks ideal for the species but we have never found any there; we suspect it is just too rocky with many big boulders and not enough sand or suitable binding between them. i.e. it was difficult to walk on, hence no Spiranthes!

O V E R V I E W:   616 Spiranthes romanzoffiana recorded in North Mayo

Numbers this year were on a par with last year but these numbers included different locations, like the Terrybaun specimens shown RIGHT. By now we can confidently say most of L. Conn — apart from its Islands — has been well surveyed. The established sites of Drummin Bay/Car Park, Massbrook shore, the West shore and The Lagoon are still doing well but suffering with the weather. The main gap on the above map is the long convoluted East Shore of L. Conn. There are undoubtedly some orchids here but the large colonies found here 5 years ago are a thing of the past. Significantly the East Shore is different from the West Shore, mainly in regard to land use and development. In previous shores Cattle and Horses were kept off the shore now they are widespread and the rare orchid has gone. Farming is under pressure to maintain its beef industry. Maybe there are ways the agricultural economy and the conservation agenda can work hand in hand; we certainly would have the data to inform such new thinking and new land use policies. The only similarly damaged area on the west shore is a small area north of the Lower West Shore where scrub clearing has removed many plants.
A B C D E Pontoon Bridge Massbrook Addergoole ‘The Lagoon’ Knockmore

Terrybaun Beauty…

This is the race horse of Irish Lady’s Tresses. In fact it’s a Derby with 4 of them in the group! One of our best sightings for the year! A new territory in a very isolated and inaccessible area of south L. Conn between Massbrook Bay and the perilous cliffs of coarse grained Granodiorite guarding the outflow of the lake south to L. Cullin. It was a sense of completion that lead us there. It is a changing landscape moving from gently sloping shore of every increasing boulder size to eventually sharp fault defined cliffs dropping straight into the water — an unusual feature around the coast of L. Conn. Reported on on The Log for 23rd of August… It is unusual to see 4 such perfect flowers so tightly clustered together. This picture is reminiscent of images one sees from North America. But it was one of a small number of occurrences on this somewhat barren southern shore. Of course, none occurred on the cliffs — they had their own flora — but they were present in medium sized groups where the shore was flatter, sandier and grassier.

Conclusion, Conservation and New Plans

For details of trips, days, records mainly from L. Conn and L. Cullin go to our Spiranthes2019 Log Page where you will find detailed accounts of many trips over a 3 month period with many photographs and observations.

This Page shows:

Numbers and Distribution Map

Terrybaun Beauty (a special set of these Orchids)

Comments and ideas for Conservation of this species in

the West.

GoTO:       www.wildwest.ie/logspiranthes2019.html We have had to divide this page, reluctantly, pending sorting out some technical problems. But it may advantageous to have the field work and the analysis kept separate — one is factual, the other is theory and dependent on much effort and commitment to make it come true. Bit it would be nice to see The Two Lakes hosting the greatest collection of Spiranthes romanzoffiana  in Europe!

Final Report on this species in West Mayo for 2019

More discussion to follow…

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