Tuesday 15 March 2011

Spring Snowflake

This morning I ventured forth to deepest darkest Dorset in search of my first rare and interesting plant of the year. Well, when I say deepest darkest it was really only just over the border a few miles to the north of Lyme Regis. The plant I was looking for was Leucojum vernum the Spring Snowflake a plant which is confined to just two sites in Britain one in Dorset and one in Somerset. I knew from the book A Colour Guide to Rare Wild Flowers by John Fisher that they could be found near the village of Wootton Fitzpaine but not precisely where . I put out a couple of feelers in the 'interested in rare and interesting plants fraternity' and soon had the location down to a grid reference. There was a public right of way nearby but the site itself was on private land amongst small line of trees around a little brook.
The plants are in that small group of trees. I needed to cross this private land to get there...on reaching the bottom and walking along the barbed wire fence looking for a place to climb through I was very pleasantly suprised to see this...
Although the site is 'kept quiet' the landowners are obviously  happy to accommodate visiting enthusiasts. In fact more people than I would have imagined visit judging by all the footprints in the woods around the plants.
I was a bit concerned that it would be a bit late in the year and the plants would be past their best but they were 'showing well'
A single flower on each stalk distinguishes them from the Summer Snowflake or Loddon Lily.
The plants were first discovered growing at this site in 1866. Although some sources say that these and the Somerset plants are truly native, in his book A Colour Guide to Rare Wild Flowers author John Fisher says of the Spring Snowflake, "The Spring Snowflake is seldom, if ever, truly wild but gives a convincing impression of being so in at least two areas remote from houses or gardens" One of these two sites is the Wootton Fitzpaine one. I wouldn't consider the site " remote from houses or gardens" as no more than about a kilometre distant is this.
Wootton Park.
It seems to me all too feasible that they originally escaped from gardens here. I agree with John Fisher that they certainly look wild at this location though. Carpeting the ground between the trees like Bluebells.
 Not quite as showy as Bluebells though, you can hardly see them from a distance.

Back in the village I just had to take a photo of the Village Pound ( walled enclosure where stray farm animals were kept until owners paid a fine to reclaim them). Most other village pound I've seen are reasonably large affairs, this one is tiny.
Room for a little one! I wonder how crowded it used to get?

Bun had the old moth trap out for the first time this year last night and it caught quite a few moths of eight species which was quite good, they were Hebrew Character, Quaker, Small Quaker, Twin-spotted Quaker, March Moth ( naturally) and  also:
Early Grey
Clouded Drab
Yellow Horned 
 ( I'd say they were definitely orange though!)

Walking Rex at Heathayne Bridge, Colyton this afternoon in glorious sunny weather I had another butterfly year-tick with two Commas.
They were fighting over a sunny patch on a trackway, this was the victor.

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