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This was a local trip to catch up on some known sites with interesting plants, and a new find for me of broad-leaved helleborines (just half an hours walk from my office I found these wonderful plants while out for a lunchtime walk). I have included the pictures at the bottom, grouped by location, but couldnt resist including the broomrape here.
First of all we went to Flowery Bank, Broughton, to check up on the knapweed broomrape (Orobanche elatior). I could only see three spikes, one of them being an absolute monster well over a foot tall (left). It was noticeable that the verge was taller than in previous years. This probably reflects the odd spring we had: cold and wet early on, then suddenly turning very warm, at which point all the grasses shot up all over Ryedale. It may also be that the ponies that usually graze these verges have not been on this particular stretch. Having admired the broomrapes I walked just a little further along the track and was astonished to find about 20 heads of sand leek (Allium scorodoprasum) in flower. Although this has been recorded here before it was the first time I had seen it. The field behind the broomrapes had a fine show of common fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), fools parsley (Aethusa cynapium) and scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) along with one plant of yellow-juiced poppy (Papaver dubium ssp. lecoqii).
As if one new plant for the day was not enough... as we walked down the track in search of the (known) hoary cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea) and bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) we saw a magnificent clump of clustered bellfower (Campanula glomerata). This, too, was far taller than normal, and made a wonderful show. It was surrounded by (common) agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), and the purple and yellow complemented one another nicely. We then carried on to the cinquefoil site and I was delighted to see that it was thriving: several plants in the verge, both flopping forward over the track and clambering up through the taller vegetation. The cranesbill had finished flowering but we did see leaves, seedpods and one tatty bloom remaining (just as well or I probably would not have spotted it). It was very close to the cinquefoil, not quite where I had remembered it.
One other plant that intrigued us was a white campion specimen with malformed flowers. At first I thought we were looking at narrow petals, but in fact we were seeing the styles, and the petals were either completely absent (in most flowers on the plant) or vestigial. The calyx was also mis-shapen, but the rest of the plant appeared normal, and it appeared to have set seed. It was growing next to a completely normal specimen, and there was no sign of spraying in the verge. A genetic sport I imagine. (Silene latifolia)
We then went to the helleborine site, which is in the verge of a farm lane which runs along a narrow strip of woodland I had always thought the wood rather unexciting and probably not of ancient origin, and was absolutely astonished to find these helleborines (Epipactis helleborine). There must be at least a dozen, probably 20 or even more, in an area roughly ten foot by eight. Most of the flowers are off-white, but those of the champion spike which is well over a foot tall are pinkish. They will be in full flower in a few days. Interestingly there is a plant of Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) just around the corner; it might of course be a garden escape.
Our final stop was a farm at Mowthorpe where hairy buttercup (Ranunculus sardous) and smooth tare (Vicia tetrasperma) were found a couple of years ago. The farmer is very sympathetic to the idea of conserving and encouraging wildflowers, and indeed is now maintaining a strip of cornfield weeds as part of a conservation scheme. In this strip we saw the blue variant of pimpernel Anagallis arvensis), cornflower(Centaurea cyanus), corn marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum), corn spurrey (Spergula arvensis), large hemp-nettle (Galeopsis speciosa), shepherds needle (Scandix pecten-veneris), lesser toadflax (Chaenorhinum minus), corn buttercup (Ranunculus arvensis), corncockle (Agrostemma githago), cornsalad (seeding) (Valerianella sp., probably V. dentata), Venus looking-glass (also seeding) (Legousia hybrida), treacle mustard (Erysimum cheiranthoides) and narrow-leaved red hemp-nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia). Some of these have been introduced to this site but they are all grown from local Ryedale seed, and the pimpernel and corn spurrey at least appeared by themselves. Further down the bank we saw swathes of the hairy buttercup and smooth tare, both of which have spread considerably since they were noticed two years ago. We were also privileged to see some marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris )(though there was some discussion as to whether it might be the hybrid with hedge woundwort) and one carefully nurtured plant of the rare corn gromwell (Lithospermum arvense), which in all honesty is not very attractive and also very hard to photograph (as was the tare my camera couldnt find anything to focus on!)
[Some pictures link to larger, more detailed versions]
They are not arranged very artistically sorry! All photos are copyright (© Gill Smith unless otherwise credited). If you would like to use them for any purpose please email Gill Smith. Our normal policy is to allow free but acknowledged use of pictures for non-commercial purposes. Some of the photos are available at higher resolutions.
Bladder Campion Silene vulgaris
Knapweed Broomrape Orobanche elatior
The bumble bee Bombus lucorum on field scabious Knautia arvensis(thanks to Stuart Dunlop for the bee id)
Clustered Bellflower Campanula glomerata
Fumitory Fumaria officinalis
Green Veined White Butterfly on Creeping Thistle
Hoary Cinquefoil, the second picture showing the silvery underside to the leaf
Malformed White Campion (second picture © Nan Sykes)
Normal White Campion
Lesser or Small Toadflax
Marsh Woundwort (or maybe hybrid Marsh×Hedge)
Smooth Tare Flowers (photo © Nan Sykes)
Smooth Tare Seedpods
White Willow rather a splendid tree along a ditch
© Gill Smith July 2005
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