Plants to be Found Along the Foss

The following is a selection of some of the most commonly seen larger flora to be found in or on the banks of the Foss. It is not meant to be a complete list, so if you find anything that is not here, why not take a good resolution photograph and submit it. We will do our best to add it to the list (with due acknowledgement). Clicking on a photograph will bring up a larger version in a new window.

Attributions for photographs added from Wikimedia Commons are given at the end of the article: those from other sources are shown below the photo concerned.

To make the list more useful, we have divided it into the following categories.

1)          Plants with obvious flowers

a)      In the river
b)      On the bank

2)          Plants with inconspicuous flowers

a)      In the river
b)      On the bank

3)          Trees

Plants with obvious flowers

a) In the river

Yellow flag  (Iris Pseudacorus)   has long sword-shaped leaves and large yellow iris flowers from June to August.

Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia has distinctive arrow-shaped leaves and 3-petaled white flowers, with a purple spot at the base of each petal.

Water-plantain  (Alisma plantago-aquatica)  has long, pointed leaves a little like a large plantain, and small pale lilac flowers from June to August.

Yellow water-lily (Nuphar lutea) is unmistakable with round floating leaves and large, globular yellow flowers from June to September. In winter the floating leaves die back but there are still large submerged leaves visible.

Water forgetmenot (Myosotis scorpioides) is generally larger than garden forgetmenots and has bright sky-blue flowers from June to October.

Amphibious bistort (Persicaria amphibia) has long spikes of small, pink flowers. It can grow either on land or in water, when the leaves float. The land form often has very few flowers.

b) On the bank

Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)  is very tall and hairy all over, with large purplish-pink flowers from July to September. Sometimes called Codlins and cream, apparently from the smell of the crushed leaves (codlins are apples).

Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris)  has compound leaves not unlike rocket or watercress (which are both related), and dense spikes of small yellow flowers from May to July.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus )  has huge round leaves resembling rhubarb and long spikes of lilac flowers that appear in March before the leaves are up.

Water figwort (Scrophularia auriculata)  is a tall plant with flanges on the stems and toothed leaves. Its small brownish flowers have 2 lips and are present from June to September; they are pollinated by wasps.

Hemlock (Conium maculatum) is a very tall plant with purple-spotted stems, feathery leaves and flat heads of tiny white flowers from June to August, resembling Keck or Queen Anne’s Lace. It is very poisonous.

Common comfrey  (Symphytum x uplandicum)  is a robust plant with bristly hairs on the leaves and stems, and coiled spikes of tubular flowers that open pink and turn blue. It flowers from May to July.

Common valerian (Valeriana officinalis)  is a tall plant with compound leaves and loose clusters of pink flowers from June to August.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)  has compound leaves, often red-tinged, and clusters of fragrant, creamy flowers from June to September.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)  is a tall annual that often forms dense stands that crowd out all other plants. It has distinctive pink flowers which earn it its alternative name of Policeman’s Helmet from the shape of the spur behind the flower, and remarkable explosive seedpods. However, it is invasive and not native and should be controlled where possible.

Plants with inconspicuous flowers

a) In the river

Branched bur-reed (Sparganium erectum) and Unbranched bur-reed (Sparganium emersum) both have ball-like flowerheads on angled stems, branched in one and unbranched in the other. Branched bur-reed has iris-like leaves emerging from the water whereas Unbranched bur-reed has mainly floating leaves.

Sparganium erectum
Sparganium emsersum

Reed sweet-grass (Glyceria maxima)  is a tall grass with bright green, broad leaves and green flowerheads with well separated spikelets.

Common reed (Phragmites australis)  is very tall with stiff stems that stand through the winter, broad, grey-green leaves and distinctive purplish flower spikes. It can form very dense stands (reedbeds).

Broad-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans)  has floating oval leaves and spikes of inconspicuous flowers that projects from the water surface. The leaves are more rounded than those of Amphibious bistort and have parallel veins.

Duckweed (Lemna minor)  consists of a single round leaf with a few tiny roots, floating on the water. It spreads by dividing and before the new plants separate off, there may be several together. In still water, duckweed can completely cover the surface.

b) On the bank

Reed canary-grass (Phalaris arundinacea)  is another tall grass, with broad leaves and dense spikes of flowers that may be almost white, yellowish green or brownish purple. The stems and leaves stand right through the winter.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)  is very familiar. Both leaves and stems are covered in stinging hairs. Nettles are commonest where the ground is disturbed and fertile, especially where river dredgings are dumped, and can crowd almost everything else out, forming dense and impenetrable stands.

Trees

Crack willow (Salix fragilis)  and White willow (Salix alba)  are both tall, spreading trees with branches that break easily and long, thin leaves. White willow has very grey leaves, but along the Foss there are many hybrids and it is often impossible to tell the two apart. They easily regenerate from broken twigs pushed into damp ground. When the fluffy seeds are ripe in June, the ground can be covered with them.

Grey willow (Salix cinerea)  is a much smaller tree with ‘pussy willow’ catkins and smaller, grey-green leaves.

Weeping willow (Salix x Babylonica)  is completely distinctive from its shape. It is widely planted along the Foss.

Alder (Alnus glutinosa)  is a very common riverside tree, with dark green oval leaves, that fall late in the year when still green. It has separate male and female flowers in catkins, long and reddish for the male flowers and shorter for the female, which turn into the distinctive, hard fruits. Alders have a symbiosis with bacteria that live in large nodules on their roots and that can turn nitrogen gas in the air into fixed nitrogen that the plants can use.

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)  is now one of the commonest British trees, though it is not native. It has typical maple leaves that turn dark green and yellow flowers in catkins in spring.

Attributions

Acer pseudoplatanus

 

Sycamore

 

By MurielBendel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Acer pseudoplatanus

 

bark No author provided. Alberto Salguero assumed (based on copyright claims). (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Alisma plantago-aquatica Water Plantain By Bff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Barbarea_vulgaris Wintercress By H. Zell (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
Conium maculatum Hemlock

In flower

By Mick Talbot from Lincoln (U.K.), CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Conium maculatum seeds By H. Zell (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
Epilobium hirsutum Codlins and cream/Great hairy willow herb

 

By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet

 

By Rasbak (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
glutinosa Alder Alnus

 

By Nikanos (selbst fotografiert von Nikanos) CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5), via Wikimedia Commons
Glyceria maxima Reed sweet-grass

 

By Rasbak (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
Impatiens glandulifera Himalayan balsam

 

By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Iris pseudacorus Flag Iris in flower

LCO338

Jörg Hempel [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
Iris pseudacorus Seed pods ”Iris_pseudacorus” fruit by Pethan Houten, the Netherlands July 9, 2005 {GFDL}
Lemna minor

 

Duckweed

 

No author provided. Ekko assumed (based on copyright claims). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  Close-up Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Myosotis scorpioides Water forgetmenot

En masse

 

By Frank Vincentz (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
Myosotis scorpioides flowering By Meneerke bloem (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
Nuphar lutea Yellow water-lily in flower

 

By H. Zell (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons
Nuphar lutea En masse By user:netanel_h (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html, via Wikimedia Commons
Persicaria amphibia Amphibious bistort Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Petasites hybridus

 

Butterbur

 

By Karelj (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Phalaris arundinacea Reed canary grass By Franz Xaver (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Phragmites australis Common reed By Hubert Śmietanka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Phragmites australis Close up By Isidre blanc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Potamogeton natans Broad-leaved pondweed

 

Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sagittaria sagittifolia Arrowhead

In flower

By Muriel Bendel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sagittaria sagittifolia plant By Karelj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Salix alba

 

White willow

 

By Willow (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Salix alba

 

leaves No author provided. MPF assumed (based on copyright claims) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), via Wikimedia Commons
Salix babylonica Weeping willow (planted) By Fontema (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Salix babylonica tortuosa By Opioła Jerzy (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Salix cinerea

 

Grey willow

 

By Rasbak (Own work) GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
Salix cinerea

 

leaves By BCB (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Salix fragilis

 

Crack willow

 

Andreas Eichler [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Scrophularia auriculata Water figwort

 

By Acabashi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sparganium emersum Unbranched

bur-reed

 

By Stefan.lefnaer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sparganium erectum Branched bur-reed

 

By Agnieszka Kwiecień (Nova (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons
Symphytum x uplandicum Common comfrey

 

By Kim Hansen [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Urtica dioica Stinging nettle

 

By H. Zell (Own work) GFDL CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Valeriana officinalis Common valerian

 

Christian Fischer [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons