Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Narrow-lipped helleborines and a surprise

I've been back to take a closer look at the narrow-lipped helleborines that I found 'up the hill' last week. That time I had the dog with me so spent most of the time trying to stop her from standing on them! On my own today I had the chance to have a good hunt around and counted 28 plants in flower.

They're nationally scarce plants and were a real thrill to discover. They flower for a short time between mid July and early August - the flowers have opened a lot since I was last there a week ago and I could see they were starting to go over already.

The largest plant I saw - most were considerably smaller

They were growing in the shade of the beech trees where not very much else was growing. Each plant seemed to be close to one of the beech trees.

As I was groveling around in leaf litter and the beech masts, trying to get some photos of the helleborines, I noticed a strange looking yellow thing next to me. It was tiny (maybe 3-4cm tall) and looked almost waxy. At first I thought it might be a fungus that had popped up after all the rain on Sunday.  

Then I looked around and found a few more that were flowering. I found 12 in total, some of which had gone to seed (which I think is the case of the first one I saw). I believe these were yellow bird's nests, which have no chlorophyll, living off a fungus instead of using photosynthesis. I don't think they're as scarce as the narrow-lipped helleborines, but still quite rare and a first for me. A lovely surprise to find them growing in amongst the helleborines!

The flowers are going over and the seed heads are developing

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