Rumex acetosa subsp. hibernicus in Cornwall

May 2, 2015 by

Rumex acetosa subsp. hibernicus in Cornwall

During a search for Land Quillwort Isoetes histrix on Predannack outcrop, the Lizard, SW67311627 on 26 April 2015 Dr Fred Rumsey noticed something different about the leaf of a plant of Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) [or ‘sour sabs as us Cornish folks do call it] on the outcrop. It was covered in minute papillate hairs – see photo. Fred has determined it as Rumex acetosa subsp. hibernicus or ‘Irish Sorrel’.

Rumex acetosa subsp. hibernicus was last recorded in Cornwall at Gwithian SW5841, and on Heathy Hill, Bryher on the Isles of Scilly, both in 1982 by Chris Preston. It has been recorded at Rushy Bay (near Heathy Hill, Bryher) by Rosemary Parslow in 2007, but Fred’s record is the first for Cornwall since 1982 so a good update. David Pearman has noted that it is therefore the first record for mainland England since 1982 [though of course Cornwall is not actually in ‘England’!]. It appears to be in highly exposed places and it could be under-recorded on the coast of Cornwall and elsewhere on the western seaboard. If you find any Common Sorrell in exposed coastal situations with hairy leaves please let the BCG co-ordinator know.

Ian Bennallick

Photo – Dr Fred Rumsey


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