The Flax and the Toadflax

Once again it was volunteer Tuesday at Farlington Marshes and we were catching up with various odd jobs, mostly around thistle spudding and ragwort digging, but also including trimming around the entrance gates, clearing sluices and doing the butterfly transects.

thistle spudding

thistle spudding

There was also a group from Portsmouth Grammar School on site and I had to let them in through the height barrier and as I waited I had a look at the patch of disturbed grass by the entrance, it has a varied flora to say the least. I got a few pictures of some of them. Pale flax is one that is commonest on bare ground near the sea, but you will not see it on the reserve proper.

pale flax

pale flax

Others are plants of bare ground all over the place, although not many patches have quite such a range of species.

purple toadflax

purple toadflax

long-headed poppy

long-headed poppy

As is often the way they include some that seem to have got out of gardens as I think this allium must have.

Allium

Allium

There are also some plants that have probably been brought in, possibly with imported soil.

scabious

scabious

There were even a couple of bee orchid, although these do seem to pop up in all sorts of odd places.

bee orchid

bee orchid

This was not the only orchid I came across today, when we were ragwort digging in the Bushes we found a pyramidal orchid just coming into flower.

pyramidal orchid

pyramidal orchid

 

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4 thoughts on “The Flax and the Toadflax

  1. Really surprised to hear that you are digging up ragwort. Isn’t it the only food for burnet moth lavae? At our caravan site we reduce ragwort but do not eliminate it for this reason. The burnet moths are a joy when they hatch.

    • We remove ragwort from the grazed areas as it is toxic to livestock, although in fact they rarely eat it. The moth you are thinking of is the cinnabar rather than the burnet and it continues to thrive. Actually ragwort is a very valuable plant for insects, especially as a nectar source and is food plant to a number of scarce flies. It is seen as a particular problem by horse keepers, as it is a cumulative poison it builds up over time so ponies that eat it throughout their lives can build up a fatal dose, although they will usually avoid it when it is growing . It is especially a problem in hay, but a responsible haymaker would not make hay from a field with ragwort. The seed does blow around so this can be an issue on sites with pony-keeping neighbours, but as the seed lasts in excess of 70 years there is probably more than enough in the ground already. It is prevalent in pony pastures, not usually because of seed blowing in but, because these pastures tend to be very short grazed and have patches of bare ground, ideal for the establishment of ragwort seedlings.

  2. Thanks for the orchid spot: I’d only once seen bee orchids previously, 25 years ago in Provence. And now just in time: the flowers were already fading by 18:00 this evening.

  3. Thanks for the info – I realised I meant the cinnabar some time after I left this post. I love reading your blog and am amazed at all the work you and the volunteers do on behalf of wildlife. Those of us stuck behind a computer for much of the day are really grateful!!

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