Saturday 9 July 2011

Pheasant's Eye

On Tuesday I got up very early and made the journey to a location somewhere on Salisbury Plain to see Pheasnat's Eye,  Adonis annua, now a very rare plant in the UK. Although a native of North Africa and the Mediterranean region it as long been established further north. In Britain it's an archaeophyte (a plant naturalized before 1500AD). I set off at approximately 5.00 am to beat both the traffic and the weather front on the way in from the west. The plan worked well and when I arrived on site it was dry and calm with high cloud and watery sun, making for a very atmospheric scene.
There was a fairly large area which had just been ploughed and left to colonise naturally with 'arable weeds'. What a gorgeous sight. It's hard to imagine that this was once commonplace. This is the only place I've seen all four species of Poppy (Common, Long-headed, Rough and Prickly) growing together. 

The Pheasant's Eye are diminutive in comparison to the Poppies and were difficult to spot at first.There were just five small plants and these were very close to the edge of a trackway used by army vehicles. In fact a couple of the plants looked to have been run over a bit! You may be able to spot them in this photo. Much smaller and deeper red than Poppies.

I also saw a couple of other firsts for me 
The rather impressive, Knapweed Broomrape.
Also this white form of Greater Knapweed.
This plant had been flattened by a tank and I had to prop it up to take a photo.
When I got up at 4.00am Martha hadn't even gone to bed yet! I asked if she wanted to come along and keep me company. I think when I said I was going to Salisbury Plain she misheard me. She thought I said the South Pole!!

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