Botanical outing to the Upper Rock
Our botanical outing to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve was held on 25th March. This well-attended outing was led by Leslie Linares (plants), Albert Gonzalez and Michael Grech (lichens and fungi).
We started on the road leading to the Upper Galleries where we were rewarded with the sight of three rare species: Two-leaved Gennaria (Gennaria diphylla), the endemic Gibraltar Saxifrage (Saxifrage globulifera subsp. gibraltarica), and the red-listed Pepper-pot fungus Myriostoma coliforme. A good start to the day!
Along Queen’s Road we came across a few of the stunning blue Giant Squill (Scilla peruviana) and stands of Rose Garlic (Allium roseum) and Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus). Once on Inglis Way footpath, we were able to see some Dragon Trees (Dracaena draco) that had germinated from seeds in gull droppings. The initial stages of the footpath itself was found to be quite overgrown with Bear's Breech (Acanthus mollis), but there was plenty to see, especially the many species of lichen growing on the stones of the old wall and surrounding trees, such as Black Stone Flower (Parmotrema perlatum), Common Greenshield Lichen (Parmelia caperata) and Maritime Sunburst Lichen (Xanthoria parietina). The introduced invasive Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae) is also quite abundant, unfortunately taking over various parts of the habitat.
Further along the path, and along those long stretches where there was no Oxalis, there were hundreds of Three-cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum), and the introduced and fragrant Freesia (Freesia alba). It was also satisfying to find a couple of Gennaria diphylla by the side of the path. Many other species were pointed out along the path, but many were not yet flowering. Once on Charles V Road, we saw more Gennaria diphylla, and some Jersey Buttercup (Ranunculus paludosus).
All along this road, and down Signal Station Road, we noted the number of different species of lichens present on the trees, especially those that are more sensitive to air pollution. These roads are not exposed to high levels of pollution as there is less traffic, especially Signal Station Road. Along the sides of the road, we saw plenty of Spiny Broom (Calicotome villosa) and Scorpion Vetch (Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca). At the end of a very successful and enjoyable outing, near Governor’s Lookout, we came across the rare Bean Trefoil (Anagyris foetida), a poisonous tree of the pea family, still in bloom.