The Plants of May

At this time of year the meadows are absolutely beautiful. Here are a few of the interesting plants that are growing:

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White Helleborine

This is a Orchid, growing in one of the copses of trees. The plants take 8 years to develop from seed and another 2-3 years to flower after that and so its been here  long time (..although its the first time we’ve noticed it). It self pollinates and so can grow deep in woods where pollinators don’t tend to go. Because it doesn’t need to attract insects, the flowers are not showy but I think it does understated elegance very well indeed.

Here is another intriguing plant. Its the Broomrape (Orabanche minor) growing in many of the larger patches of red clover. This plant lacks chlorophyll and so has nothing green about it – it doesn’t photosynthesise but is parasitic on the clover, taking its nutrients from their roots.

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The parasitic Broomrape

The Corsican Pines are busy making pollen. Here is what happens if you brush against one at the moment:

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I think this is next one of the most lovely plants that grow here, the spectacular looking Hoary Plantain, Plantago media. Its a chalk downland specialist and the flower spikes look like a bunch of sparklers. Its wonderful, I always stop to admire it as I walk by. I read that it has a reputation as an astringent for treating wounds and that the Romans used it for toothache.

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Hoary Plantain

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The Kidney Vetch is the sole food plant for the larvae of the Small Blue Butterfly – a very rare little butterfly that we have a number of here this year. As far as we can see we only have one Kidney Vetch plant growing and so all the female Small Blues must be laying eggs on this one plant and it should soon have a lot of their caterpillars on it. We will keep an eye on it and see what happens next.

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Kidney Vetch

And, finally, the most lovely stand of Flag Irises down at the pond. Beloved by bees and beloved by me.

 

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