Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Grass vetchling galore

I spent a long day on a site in Hertfordshire. The highlight of the visit was finding an extraordinarily large population of grass vetchling Lathyrus nissolia, which is one of my favourite species. The intensely bright pink flowers are unmistakable, but the foliage is so grass-like that this species is almost impossible to record when it's not flowering. I'm amazed I managed to get a decent image, as there was a strong breeze blowing all day! This very southern species favours disturbed habitats, particularly on calcareous clay, and seems to have spread recently, possibly because it is sometimes included in commercial seed mixes.

It was also good to see a very good population of wood speedwell Veronica montana in the ancient woodlands. This species is easy to identify when the pale lilac flowers are visible, but can sometimes be overlooked as germander speedwell Veronica chamaedrys when it's in the vegetative state. However, the latter species normally has two lines of hairs on the stems, while V.montana has the hairs evenly distributed around the stem.

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