Saturday 3 – In Clover

The south-western part of the seawall was subjected to maintenance back in the late autumn and early winter of last year, as part of this project the rear face was covered with sterilised soil. At the time I wondered why the existing soil was not used on top as this would make for a quicker sward development. A small section at the extreme western end  was topped with soil from on site and it has developed a closed sward unlike the new soil areas which are mostly still largely bare. However this bare soil does have some plants on it and these are species of bare ground and include some that are of interest, especially several species of clover. Three of these in particular are typical of such habitats and two may actually be new tetrad records, or at least they are not recorded as being there in the Flora of Hampshire.

The commonest of these clovers is knotted clover and this is growing along most of the length, it is named for the tight flower heads that look like knots along the stem.

knotted clover

knotted clover

The next most frequent is the subterranean clover, this is also prostrate with stems lying flat along the ground but has very sparse flower heads with just three to five flowers each.

subterranean clover

subterranean clover

The last is also rather flat to the ground, but at least tries to rise above it to flower, it is also the most attractive of the three and the flower head is what gives it the name hare’s foot clover.

hare's foot clover

hare’s foot clover

There are also a number of other plants of bare ground including two species of poppy and oraches, if I had got the book with me I might have tried identifying them too. I did notice a number of saltmarsh plants, no doubt growing from seeds carried over the top of the wall when the tide over tops, these included sea purslane and glasswort, the last looking a bit like a miniature cactus as it grows out of the fine, sandy soil. 





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