Last Sunday I fulfilled one of those lifetime ambitions that only a geeky botanist would have - to see Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem (Gagea lutea) flowering.
In the morning Pete and I had coffee with his Mum in Spalding, and then headed west to Morkery Wood, which I knew had two populations of this uncommon ancient woodland plant. After the first picnic of the year, and a short stop to photograph moschatel Adoxa moschatellina and wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, we walked through the wood to find the southern population. After a short search I found two good patches, but alas no flowers. This is not at all unusual as this species is a shy-flowerer, and often persists in the vegetative state for many years. It can be tricky to find, especially when growing among bluebells, but each plant only has a singe linear leaf, which has either three or five noticeable ridges on the reverse.
Although I was a little disappointed it was a beautiful day to be out, and there were plenty of other wildflowers to admire, including a solitary summer snowflake Leucojum aestivum (probably planted but first recorded in 2004), toothwort Lathraea clandestina, a good patch of small teasel Dipsacus pilosus and the hybrid between primrose and cowslip Primula x polyantha. We took a circuitous route and ended up walking near the northern boundary of the wood, where I knew the other population was located.
|Dipsacus pilosus seed-head|
|Primula x polyantha|
I'd nearly given up hope when we found two extremely large patches of Gagea, both flowering profusely. Pete counted at least 118 flowering spikes, and most were in perfect condition. Bliss!