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June 2014

posted 6 Jul 2014, 08:38 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 6 Jul 2014, 08:49 ]
bee orchid

Following on from last month's post, I was very happy to find a small patch of bee orchids flowering on the Green. You would think that these plants would be very easy to spot given their amazing flowers, but I always struggle to find them as they are suprisingly well camouflaged amongst the clover and long grasses. No doubt, if you are a bee, then this is not a problem, although, ironically the bee that this flower has evolved to attract, is not found in the UK and so bee orchids rely on self-pollination.


Now you might be excused for thinking that many of the yellow flowers on the Green at the moment are dandelions. Infact this is not the case and most of these "dandelions" belong to a number of closely related species known as hawkbits and hawk's beard. I have no idea why they are called this, and to the uninitiated (myself included) they are very confusing to tell apart. However, having spent some time on the Green armed with my Collins flower guide, the photo on the right is of an Autumn hawkbit (I think). There is also a Mouse ear hawkweed on the Green, which has a more lemon colour and has quite a distinctive furry leaf that, with a bit of imagination, looks like a mouse ear! So next time you are on the Green, have a closer look at these "dandelions"!

cattle grazing

The cattle have now been on the Green for about 6 weeks and you can already see where they have grazed. Having these cattle on the Green over the summer is an important part of our management plan and they help maintain the grassland habitat. Not only do they control the growth of the grass (which in turn allows the wild flowers to proliferate), but the dung they produce is excellent for nutrients and support a bewildering array of invertebrate species. It has been recorded that in the UK, over 250 species of insects can be found in or on cattle dung!