Monday 25 August 2014

A Few New Forest Specialities and My Favourite Wildflower

Yesterday we were going to visit Martha in Winchester and as always I tried to fit in a bit of botanizing on the way. I decided to try the New Forest where there are a wealth of interesting and rare plants. Unfortunately we had to be in Winchester by midday, so I didn't get nearly as long as I would have liked and only managed to see a handful of new species from just two sites. Firstly we stopped in the Cadnam area where the lawns contained lots of Wild Chamomile and the wet depressions left from winter pools were the location of the very rare Small Fleabane and also the rare mint, Pennyroyal. I also saw my first ever Trifid Bur-marigiold here.

Wild Chamomile - Chamomilla nobile 

 Cattle grazing in a hollow containing lots of Small Fleabane - Pulicaria vulgaris
It grows in areas of poached ground that have been flooded in winter so depressions like this are essential for its survival.

In the top corner of this photo a clump of Pennyroyal - Mentha pulegium is also visible.. just about!
I couldn't get any close up photos of this plant as it would have meant crouching down amongst the herd of cattle. I wasn't that determined though because I'd seen and photographed the plant before in South Devon. See HERE.

Small Fleabane - Pulicaria vulgaris

Trifid Bur-marigold -  Bidens tripartita

Next stop was the botanically famous Hatchet Pond, home of several very rare plants. It's a great place but the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend wasn't really the best time to visit as it is also a very popular tourist day trip spot. Fortunately for the plant enthusiast none of the hoards of people are in the slightest bit interested in the flora of the site and you can botanize without too much interference. You certainly get some funny looks though as you grovel around on the floor seemingly photographing the mud! I could easily have stayed all day as there are lots of plants I didn't have time to locate but I did see the big two, and when I say 'the big two' that's in rarity value rather than looks!

 Hampshire Purslane - Ludwigia palustris

 Pillwort - Pilularia globulifera
 A rare and unusual fern

Pillwort with new fronds unfurling in the foreground.
Seen here with Hampshire Purslane and what I think is New Zealand Pigmyweed - Crassula helmsii

On the way home, late in the afternoon, we made a  quick detour to one of the Dorset Heaths to look for Marsh Gentian. I'd seen then here last year so knew exactly where to look and soon found a small group. Unfortunately it was getting late and threatening to rain and in the gloomy conditions the flowers had furled up. Still stunning, even so! My favourite wildflower.

Marsh Gentian - Gentiana pneumonanthe

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