Around 30 people assembled on a dry but cool Sunday afternoon in Bourne to view and enjoy the range of spring wildflowers.
Bluebell, common dog violet, greater stitchwort, bugle and primroses were all in flower but regrettably we were only able to locate a single flower spike of early purple orchid this year. Bluebell is a flower that the UK has a special responsibility for as we have a substantial proportion of the world population! In Scotland it is known as wild hyacinth with the name bluebell referring to what we know as harebell in England.
Richard explained to the group that the common ancient woodland plant dog’s mercury which forms large carpets in woodlands, although seemingly rather unglamorous, has a fascinating biology. The species has separate male and female plants and its seeds are dispersed by ants but it mostly expands by means of a dense branching underground root system and is toxic to livestock and people. However, muntjac deer, which are common in the wood, eat it with impunity!
We were also able to contrast the flowers of white dead nettle and yellow archangel which are closely related. White dead nettle though is a widespread plant of waste ground, grassy verges and farmland whereas yellow archangel is a rather local plant confined to ancient woods.
Finally, towards the end of the walk, we found a couple of plants of wood spurge which is at the northern edge of its distribution in Britain in south Lincolnshire. This poisonous plant contains a milky latex and is sometimes known as devil’s cup and saucers.
Photographs Steve Goddard