Very excited today to find the first orchid of the year which is probably the earliest one would expect to find. The Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) was flowering at the edge of woodland near Herriard taking over from the fading bluebells. They were fairly close to a badger sett and several had been knocked over by their bumbling. The smell of the flowers is described in my book as being like tom cats. As most cats are spayed these days, this is a rarely experienced scent. I could only describe it as a cross between mild urine and musk, which I suppose is the smell of tom cats.
Orchis mascula - the Early Purple Orchid
Alongside the pathway from the Viables Craft Centre to Loggon Road, Basingstoke were several flowering Sanguisorba minor subspecies muricata - the Fodder Burnett. The female flowers were fully open at the tops of the heads but only a few male had opened around the base of the heads.
Photomicrograph of female flower of Sanguisorba minor muricata showing the twinned stigmas and styles looking like two red fountains
Total species 1202 Found and photographed 342 (28.5%)
Monday evening and a trip to Up Nately to stroll along the canal. Discovered a calcareous flush near the old brickworks with three species of sedge in flower, Carex flacca, C. acutiflorus and C. disticha. This last one is common in such habitats but was new to me. Alongside the canal were Carex sylvatica, C. remota and C. pendula. So much vegetation seems poised to flower and with the first significantly warm day today means it is just coming up to the busy time. I'm gradually getting the grass species sorted one by one. I last tried this twenty years ago but this was before scanners and digital photography so a lot was done just by memory. This time it is very different, with the ability to keep on coming back to the images you've seen.
Total species 1202 Found and photographed 338 (28.1%)
Eventually got round to identifying the water plants in my pond, which added Ceratophyllum submersum, Elodea nuttallii and Lemna minuta to the list. Another visit to Worting Wood today to try to find the toothwort but failed again. Among other species found Myosotis discolor, Veronica montana and Moehringia trinervia.
A patch of Moehringia trinervia - the three-veined sandwort
This is one of those rather confusingly named species. A number of the leaves had five veins rather than three and it was growing on a woodland ride overlying chalk rather than sand. Note the un-notched petals are much shorter than the sharp-pointed sepals. Some flowers had three and others four styles.
Total species 1202 Found and photographed 332 (27.6%)
Since my last post I have passed the 25% mark, adding 19 species to the plant list with photos added to the identification keys. A pleasant visit to the wet flush on Silchester Common found several sedges in flower along with Pedicularis sylvatica (Lousewort), Eriophorum angustifolium (Cotton Grass) and Salix repens (Creeping Willow). It was the first time I had found the cotton grass and creeping willow in flower as I had not been onto a damp heath habitat in early May before. A visit to the footpath along the southern edge of Worting Wood was made on the 11th May to look for Lathraea squamaria (Toothwort) which I had previously seen there two years ago but I failed to find it this time.
Carex nigra photographed from the boardwalk bridge on Silchester Common
Total species 1202 Found and photographed 322 (26.8%)
The middle of the week saw a brief respite from the intermittent rain and I managed to get out to the area around the River Loddon between Basingstoke town centre and Old Basing. I was delighted to see the sporophytes of Equisetum telmateia in amongst the dead remains of last years grasses. I had seen the vegetative growth before but never the spore-producing shoots. Carex flacca was in full flower and Carex paniculata was beginning to flower, with the male flowers just beginning to extend their anthers. Other nice sightings were Geum rivale (Water Avens) which was in flower alongside the board walk across the damp area and Caltha palustris not far away. I also photographed Primula veris on the flood plain. I had delayed on this one because I wanted to have photographs of how this species differed from the primrose in leaf. These five species took my total to 303, that is just over the quarter of the species in North Hampshire.