NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS New Amaranthus species for Suffolk Düring the early part of 1992, a consignment of coir fibre arrived at Felixstowe Docks from Sri Lanka, Coir fibre is the husk which is stripped off the outside of coconuts and is often dumped as a waste product. In recent years, the more environmentally conscious members of the horticultural industry have been running trials to test its suitability as an alternative to peat-based composts. (In fact, coir was used extensively by the trade before peat-based composts were invented!) The consignment at Felixstowe never reached its original buyer and was eventually bought by a Company that deals in vegetable waste products, including waste from the soya bean industry which is sold on as fertiliser for spreading on arable fields. This Company sold the product on to Notcutts Nurseries who used it as a component of a potting medium for containergrown plants on their Container unit at Ufford near Woodbridge. Düring the summer, I began to notice unusual plants appearing in these pots - other than the ones that should have been there - and realised we had an exotic line in weeds. Most obvious at first were the two Castor-Oil Plants, Ricinus communis L., that shot up above the crop plants, but before long, a wider ränge began to appear. The more interesting ones I transplanted into their own pots to protect them from being 'weeded out' and grew them on at home. This was vital for the identification of two species of Amaranthus that appeared as they flower in late summer and need to be fruiting before a positive identification can be made. Towards the end of the year, samples of two species of Amaranthus from the coir fibre and a further two species found growing around the Notcutts Propagation Unit in Woodbridge were sent to the Ipswich Museum and from there to the national referee for Amaranthus. Confirmation of the species soon came back and they proved to be as follows: In the coir fibre: Amaranthus blitum L. - a prostrate species with a distinctive notch in the leaf apex. Amaranthus spinosus L. - an unusual species with long, slender flower spikes and vicious spines. At the Propogation Unit: Amaranthus albus L. - a rare, red-stemmed form of this species. Amaranthus deflexus L. - a perennial, mat-forming species. A. blitum, A. spinosus and A. deflexus are all new species for the county. The latter shows how species can be easily missed on private land as to my knowledge, it has been growing at Notcutts Nurseries since at least 1981 and now carpets the ground to the exclusion of all other species in some areas. Several other interesting species of plants were grown on but succumbed to cold weather before being identified. One species, however, was of particular interest. This was a Single specimen of Oak-leaved Goosefoot Chenopodium glaucum, a species which has not been recorded in the county for many years. Perhaps there is a small relict population in the Felixstowe area.
Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)
NOTES A N D OBSERVATIONS
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)
Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 29
or perhaps more likely, the seed originated from the haulage lorries used to cart soya waste; this incidentally, is almost certainly the origin of the A. spinosus. M. D. Crewe. 1992 was an excellent year for Pigweed records with several new sites for the Common Amaranth (A. retroflexus L.) and the Green Pigweed (A. hibridus L.). Malcolm Searle found A. albus in his garden at Great Barton (3rd recent record for v.c. 26) and Jim Pope found Purple Amaranth (A. cruentus L.), another species new to the County, at Orwell Poultry Farm, Levington. Specimens of all the Amaranthus species mentioned in this article are now in the herbarium at Ipswich Museum (Botanical Editor).
Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)