WESTERN SEA-LAVENDER

A ROCK SEA-LAVENDER

Limonium britannicum ssp. celticum

Thrift Family [Plumbaginaceae]

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8mauve flower8lilac flower8blue
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZpanicle
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZrare

2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
A relatively short 30cm.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Sometimes with sterile stems, such as possibly the one on the extreme left. Leaves up to 17mm wide, much narrower than those of Common Sea-Lavender.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Un-like Lax-Flowered Sea-Lavender, the flowers are packed closely together.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Text goes here


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Stems branched in the lower-half.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have two sets of bracts, fringed brown in this photo.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


10th Sept 2015, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
It is not possible in this photo to distinguish which of the 2 types of stigma are present in this Sea-lavender: Cob with rounded papillae; or Papillate with prominent papillae. Nor is it possible to see which of the two types of pollen are present: coarsely reticulate or finely reticulate. But all Sea-lavenders can possess either one or the other of the two types of both stigma and pollen, but it does not seem to be diagnostically useful in separating species of Sea-lavender.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Flowers like toothbrushes, with several 'rows' of flowers.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Stems up to 1.6mm thick. Note the bracts at every junction and the telescopic non-parallel look of the stems.


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


2nd Aug 2013, Hilbre Island, Wirral, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


Easily mis-identified as other Sea-Lavenders such as :

  • Common Sea-Lavender (Limonium vulgare) but that has much larger leaves.
  • Lax-Flowered Sea-Lavender (Limonium humile) but that has fewer more flowers widely separated.
  • Matted Sea-lavender (Limonium bellidifolium)
  • Broad-leaved Sea-lavender (Limonium auriculae-ursifolium)
  • Alderney Sea-lavender (Limonium normannicum)
  • Rottingdean Sea-lavender (Limonium hyblaeum)
  • Florists's Sea-lavender (Limonium platyphyllum)

Many similarities to other Rock Sea-lavenders :

  • Rock Sea-lavender (Limonium binervosum), split into 6 sub-species:
    • (ssp. binervosu) 2n=35
    • (ssp. cantianum) 2n=35
    • (ssp. anglicum) 2n=35
    • (ssp. saxonicum) 2n=35
    • (ssp. mutatum)
    • (ssp. sarniense) 2n=35
  • Western Sea-lavender (Limonium britannicum), split into 4 sub-species:
    • (ssp. britannicum) 2n=36
    • (ssp. coombense) 2n=35
    • (ssp. transcanalis) 2n=35
    • (ssp. celticum) 2n=35, 36
  • Tall Sea-lavender (Limonium procerum), split into 3 sub-species:
    • (ssp. procerum) 2n=35, 36
    • (ssp. devoniense) 2n=35
    • (ssp. cambrense) 2n=35
  • Irish Sea-lavender (Limonium recurvum), split into 4 sub-species:
    • (ssp. recurvum) 2n=27
    • (ssp. portlandicum) 2n=27
    • (ssp. pseudotranswellianum) 2n=27
    • (ssp. humile) 2n=27
  • Purbeck Sea-lavender (Limonium dodartiforme) 2n=35
  • Logan's Sea-lavender (Limonium loganicum) 2n=36
  • St David's Sea-lavender (Limonium paradoxum) 2n=33, 36
  • Small Sea-lavender (Limonium parvum) 2n=35
  • Giltar Sea-lavender (Limonium transwallianum) 2n=35
Most Rock Sea-lavenders cannot even be differentiated by the number of chromosome pairs, since most, but not all, are 2n=35.

No relation to: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) nor to Garden Lavender (Lavandula × intermedia), non-native shrubs belonging to the Dead-nettle Family (Lamiaceae). It is a strongly aromatic shrub used as a fragrance in toiletries, perfumes, soaps, confectionery and even perhaps some beers (Roosters perhaps, which does smell of lavender).

Not to be semantically confused with : Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) another plant which grows near the sea but which has greenish-yellow flowers and belongs to the Carrot Family (Apiaceae). Rock Sea-Spurrey (Spergularia rupicola) is another flower with similar name that grows near the sea but that belongs to yet another Family, the Carnation & Campion (Caryophyllaceae)

Rock Sea-lavenders have only recently in 1986 been split up into 9 species and 17 sub-species. Before they were split up, they were classed under 'Rock Sea-lavender', which appeared to be highly variable. However, now that they have been split up, identification is, if anything, even more difficult, since not only must one specimen be examined, but a whole raft of differing specimens before a general trend can be discerned. Thus, this new classification seems not to have eliminated or diminished the variability in any way, the variance still remains! Thus true identification is extremely difficult, and probably the best way of deciding which are the contenders is to look at the distribution maps, since in many instances each Species sub-species is highly confined to just one particular area(s) only. With that method in mind, the only Rock Sea-lavender that appears in any map which includes Hilbre island is that of Western Sea-lavender, so ipso-facto, the above photographs must be this one? However, a hectad covers a large area (10km x 10km square) but luckily Rock Sea-lavender Limonium britannica ssp. celticum (which Clive Stace names 'Western Sea-lavender' in his latest book on the flora of the British Isles), happens to be quoted in the  Hilbre Island Flora as being on Hilbre Island along with only 7 other flora. However, when your Author was on Hilbre, he spotted many more than just 8 differing wild plants not including grasses ~

This sub-species of Western Sea-lavender is extremely rare (as are many of the other Rock Sea-lavenders listed above), occurring in only 5 other places in the World. It is listed in the Red Data Book (RDB) as 'near-threatened'. It also appears in the newer 'Threatened Plants Database' (TPTB) as collated by the BSBI. It occurs in the UK only in North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria, with official re-sighting since 2010 in only one location: Hilbre where there is one colony of ~100 plants and another 220 metres away with ~1000. It is extremely vulnerable to trampling. Not recorded in Cornwall since this present Century began, it previously occurred in as many as 7 hectads on the north Cornish coast.

A single plant can produce up to 500 seeds which are borne on the wind. They obviously have a low germination rate in anything but particular places.

In the above photos, not every aspect of ssp. celticum is satisfied. In particular ssp. celticum is supposed to have usually lax flowers, but hardly any are lax in these photos. And in other respects, which require measurements of dimensions of flowers, spacings, bracts, etc, your Author took no measurements whatsoever. However, ssp. britannicum has not been reported in this area, whereas ssp. celticum has! Of one thing you can be certain, it is a Rock Sea-lavender.


  Limonium britannicum ssp. celticum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Plumbaginaceae  

Distribution
 family8Thrift family8Plumbaginaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Limonium
Limonium
(Sea-lavenders)

WESTERN SEA-LAVENDER

A ROCK SEA-LAVENDER

Limonium britannicum ssp. celticum

Thrift Family [Plumbaginaceae]