30 Days Wild – Day 10

A third the way through June already! After looking for, and not finding, bee orchids the other day I am suddenly seeing them with ease, I suppose I was just not noticing them in bud. We have a lot of grassland around the lakes, perhaps surprisingly most of it dry grassland. Almost all of it is very nutrient poor, which sounds bad, but is actually good if you want a good mixture of plants. Nutrient rich habitats tend to get dominated by tall grasses and hungry herbs like nettles and hogweed, meaning smaller species don’t get a look in. Some years ago the old concrete plant was demolished and we undertook the restoration of the area including the old main entrance roadway. It has taken time but it is now well colonised by lots of plants and will only go on getting better.

Nutrient poor grass with ox eye daisy, bird’s foot trefoil and lesser stitchwort

The banks along the track are where most of the soil was piled up and it has a growth of bramble and some very fine dog rose.

dog rose

The extreme of dry, nutrient poor habitat would be something like the gravel outside the Centre, it is hard to imagine anything growing there when you think about it, almost nothing that could be described as soil and any water flows away almost a soon as it falls. But look closely and there are all sorts of plants. I am no botonist, so some of my identifications might be awry but I think we have the following:

procumbent pearlwort

shepherd’s purse – named because the seed pods are supposed to look like a shepherd’s purse.

buck’s horn plantain

Another buck’s horn plantain, trying to confuse me by looking quite a lot different from the first

fern grass Catapodium rigidum

There are a good few more too, but I think that is enough low growing tiny plants in gravel for now!

Although it is often thought that orchids are plants of old grasslands, actually they are good colonists of new habitats and their ultra-tiny seeds can be carried a long way on the wind. They are almost all plants of nutrient poor sites, I have already mentioned that we have good numbers of bee orchids, but we have several other of the commoner species too, including the common spotted orchid, this was the first one I have seen with open flowers so far this year.

common spotted orchid


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