Wednesday 3 February 2016

Rare Flowers in The Avon Gorge and Cotswolds

Back in early July we spent a day botanising in the Avon Gorge and Gloucestershire. We didn't spend very long at the Avon Gorge as it was absolutely tipping it down, making photos difficult, well making everything difficult really! We managed to see the two flowers we were hoping to find though, Bristol Onion or Round-headed Leek at its only site in the UK and Western Spiked Speedwell.

Round-headed Leek - Allium sphaerocephalon

Western Spiked Speedwell - Veronica spicata subsp. hybrida

Then on to Badgeworth near Cheltenham to see the 'Badgeworth Buttercup' or Adder's-tongue Spearwort. We were way too late for this but were hoping that a few flowers may be hanging on. The  Badgeworth Nature Reserve is the smallest in the UK being just one small seasonal pond. We were that late in the season that there wasn't even any water left in it but fortunately one or two late flowers were still hanging on.

The Badgeworth Nature Reserve.
 If it wasn't for the boardwalk you'd never guess it was ever a pond.

Adder's-tongue Spearwort Ranunculus ophioglossifolius

In The Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods we got reasonable views of the very rare orchid, Red Helleborine. There was  just a single flower spike and with there being just a single flower spike at its only other location in Buckinghamshire, that makes just two in the whole country, that's just how rare this flower is! I've been planning on going to look for it for years and I was thrilled to finally see it even if it was through a security fence. The flower spike had fallen over and so was quite difficult to spot but just enough in the open to get a photo with my 400mm lens.

Red Helleborine - Cephalanthera rubra

Near the wood where we saw the helleborine were a couple of naturalised species that I'd never seen before.

Caper Spurge - Euphorbia lathyris

Peach-leaved Bellflower - Campanula persicifolia 
Finally we popped in at a roadside reserve in the Cotswolds to see Limestone Woundwort, another very rare plant in the UK found at just to sites.

 Limestone Woundwort - Stachys alpina


Unknown said...

Another enjoyable flora post!

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Andrew!

Basil Watkins said...

There are actually three sites for Red Helleborine in England, the third being Hawkley Warren in Hampshire. I went looking for it yesterday, but no flower spikes in evidence this year (2017). However, they grow there on an almost 40 degree slope which makes searching very awkward! I think this one is not as fabulously rare as thought, just a very shy flowerer and so under-recorded.