Saturday, 17 May 2014

Slender trefoil at Ferry Meadows

Last week I had a stroll round part of Ferry Meadows Country Park. There has been a lot of wildflower seeding in places, and at the moment there is a truly magnificent display of Red Campion Silene dioica , in a number of different shades, as well as at least one plant of the hybrid with White Campion, Silene x hampeana.

Silene dioica

Silene x hampeana

However, what I was really interested in was the flora of the gravelly areas. Rabbit diggings to the west of the car-park were fringed with a halo of Common Stork'sbill Erodium cicutarium, while the sandy areas on the west bank of Overton Lake had sheets of both Lesser Trefoil Trifolium dubium and it's much less common relative Slender Trefoil Trifolium micranthum. This latter species is pretty rare locally, being far more restricted to free-draining sandy soils than T.dubium. It may well be overlooked, but when the two grow together it is clearly different, forming a lower, denser mat of smaller leaves and the flower-heads consistently having tiny flowers with fewer than ten flowers in a raceme, often only two or three. This is one to look out for at Tallington Pits I think!

Flowers of Trifolium micranthum
Dense mat of T. micranthum
Erodium cicutarium

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