Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Bee Orchid Var. Chlorantha and Corn Buttercup

Sunday was another day of botanizing this time in Somerset. First stop was at a site on the coast to see the variety of Bee Orchid known as chlorantha which totally lacks any anthocyanin colouring and thus the only colours are white, yellow and green. I was met on site by Chris Gladman who had kindly offered to show me the orchid. Chris has written a superb book on the Orchids of Somerset, which I can highly recommend. There were three of the chlorantha variety with just a single normal Bee Orchid.

Unfortunately, probably due to some very wet weather over the previous few days,
some of the plants extremities were turning brow already even though just a couple of flowers had opened. I managed to get a few shots without these parts showing up though.

Bee Orchid - Ophrys apifera var. chlorantha

'Ordinary' Bee Orchid - Ophrys apifera

Next stop was at Fivehead Arable Fields reserve. I visited this reserve for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, seeing numerous new plants, some of which are nationally rare. This reserve is a refuge for the 'much misunderstood' (in other words hated) arable weeds, some of which have all but been wiped out by modern farming practices. One that I wanted to see but which I think I was too late for last year (well that's my excuse for not finding it anyway) was Corn Buttercup - Ranunculus arvensis, I also didn't find any Broad -fruited Cornsalad - Valerianella rimosa. There was lots of Cornsalad this year too, masses of it but I could only find Narrow-fruited Cornsalad - Valerianella dentata. Good excuse to go back anyway, as I didn't stay anywhere near as long as I'd have liked but for some reason hubby was getting a bit bored and wanted to go home, I really can't imagine why!

I knew the Corn Buttercup was in this feild somwhere and that there are only a few plants.
 So a bit of a challenge then.

There were stacks of commoner species of buttercup but fortunately the Corn Buttercup is very noticeably different. The flowers are smaller and a pale lemon yellow but the most striking feature are the bizarre fruits one old name for which was Devil's Curry-combs....

...And it's easy to see why!

 I was almost too late again to see the flowers as only a few were left.
A whole sequence can be seen here from full flower through to full fruit.

 Note the lemon-yellow flowers.

Corn Buttercup - Ranunculus arvensis

Narrow-fruited Cornsalad Valerianella dentata.

Broad-leaved Spurge - Euphorbia platyphyllos

Slender Tare - Vicia parviflora

Scarlet Pimpernel - Anagallis arvensis
Not at all rare and I'm pleased to say one that seems to cope even with quite intensive agriculture.
 Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui
It's nice to see these everywhere at the moment, looks to be another good influx year.

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