Friday 12 March 2021

June 2020: Botany and Bees

I ventured out a bit more in June and saw two new plants and several new species of bee. Firstly in early June I visited one of my favourite reserves Fivehead Arable Fields. I saw some wonderful rare arable plants but nothing new. 

Corn Buttercup - Ranunculus arvensis
Dwarf Spurge - Euphorbia exigua
Sheherd's Needle - Scandix pecten-veneris
Slender Tare - Vicia parviflora
Stinking Chamomile - Anthemis cotula

Nearer to home I found some superb arable strips around a couple of fields near Weston. These were originally sown I believe and contained some nice arable plants including...

Corn Spurrey - Spergula arvensis

Corn-cockle with some dramatic storm clouds in the distance. All the Corn-cockle plants I've ever seen have been sown ones like these. The plant has been almost totally eradicated from the wild in the UK. One I'm probably never going to see growing wild.

Corn-cockle - Agrostemma githago
My first new plant of the year involved a trip to Dorset to see. It was growing on a bank/verge of a small country lane near Batcombe. I had seen it in profusion up in the highlands of Scotland but it wasn't in flower so that doesn't really count. 
The plant is Wood Vetch and in my opinion it's the most beautiful of the pea family and definitely worth the drive to see. I've looked for this at a couple of sites in Devon in the past with no luck, so when I got the gen on this site I just had to go!
Wood Vetch - Vicia sylvatica
My next new plant was also a vetch and also on a road verge this time in Devon, near Staverton.  
 This is Fodder Vetch. It looks very much like Tufted Vetch but is a much deeper shade of purple. It has other more subtle differences so needs to be looked at very closely. Unlike Tufted Vetch, Fodder Vetch isn't a native and is rare in Devon but much more common in the South East and London area I believe.

Fodder Vetch - Vicia villosa
On Monday the 15th of June I had an absolutely amazing afternoon on Beer Head. I went in search of the rare plant White Horehound which I have seen once before in Purbeck. That was before I knew that it also grows, almost right on my doorstep, on Beer Head. I found the plant with relative ease because at the time the grassland there was being absolutely grazed into oblivion by hundreds of sheep! It's such a shame because the chalk grassland flora here would be amazing given half a chance. Fortunately for White Horehound it is totally unpalatable, even to sheep! Therefore the only flowering plants to be seen were thistles and the White Horehound. Because these were the only flowers in the area, they were also covered with insects and I found three new species of bee too! Happy Days!

White Horehound - Marrubium vulgare
Although the flowers are very inconspicuous they are very attractive to bees. This is the Coast Leaf-cutter Bee a new species for me.

Coast Leaf-cutter Bee - Megachile maritima
Spined Mason Bee - Osmia spinulosa
 New species number two.
Slender Thistle - Carduus tenuiflorus
Also popular  with the insects, and it was on these that I saw my third and best new species of bee for the day. I heard it before I saw it because this species of bee has a really loud and high pitched buzz. It also has bright green eyes!

Green-eyed Flower Bee -
Anthophora bimaculata


Brian Hicks said...

Would love to see the Green-eyed Flower Bee, have to keep my eyes & ears open!
Another lovely set, great to see all these wonderful plants.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Brian. Yes,once you hear one they are easy to recognize.

Ian Andrews said...

Great to have you back. Beautiful pics as always. We have patchwork leafcutter bees in our Dorchester garden and they seem to love the flowers of golden marjorum.