A walk report by Falgunee Sarker

Don’s walk, Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea L.

Sunday 24th of March 2024 was a sunny day with 10 degree Celsius temperature. At 2 pm six members and one guest joined in the memorial walk to count the Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem at Low Coniscliffe village. 

Aim of the survey: 

  • To monitor the number of shoots flowering.
  • To evaluate the changes in their population size over the years.
  • A repeat should be possible by any surveyor in future.

Description: It is a native perennial herb in the Liliaceae family consists of a one small bulb about 20cm below ground from the base of the soil. There is a basal leaf with acuminate hooded tip and three veins present in the back of narrow leaf. Each shoot has 2-3 leaf like bracts. Yellow-green tinged flower has a green stripe at the back of tepals. We were counting each flowering shoot not the number of flowers. There were many non flowering shoots and we have excluded them from our count. These plants are not seen here by mid-April.

Habita:The plant prefers moist, base-rich soil also deciduous woodland and riverbank.

Ralph Johnson from Greta Bridge discovered the plant in 1672 by the river Tees. He said,” making a faire show among the Anemones in the skits of our woods.”

 I have included the distribution map of Yellow star-of-Bethlehem in the county Durham

Results: In the year 2016 number of flowering shoots were 200,  year 2021 number was 496, in 2022 there were 605, 2023  total counts were 585 , but this year, 2024, the number of flowering shoots were 261. Gagea lutea flowered early this year. Late Don Griss has been monitoring this for many years and it is important that the club continues this practice. Gagea lutea populations are small and scattered in the U.K.

We recorded Sweet Violet Viola odorata L. with rich violet flowers and Viola odorata var.dumetorum with white flowers. Both plants were in small patches with fragrant flowers. Ambient temperature plays a role in these sweet scented flowers. Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa also carpeted the ground under the canopy of tall trees.

  My sincere thanks to members and visitor who helped with the counts.


Ref:  1.The Flora and Vegetation of County Durham by G.G.Graham.

  1. The Discovery of the Native Flora of Britain and Ireland by D.Pearman.

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