Strood Area of Kent: 18/04/16

With the longer, but not necessarily warmer days now, there is enough time before work to visit more than one venue. We started off in Strood, Kent. Not an obvious choice for botany as it's quite built up, but the Western end of the town backs onto countryside with a mix of habitats from the Eurostar railway line to ancient woodland to disused brownfield land.

Betula pendula

When looking for flowers in Spring, it's wise not to always look down. Many trees are coming into flower now, like this lovely Silver Birch. The catkin is the male flower with pollen, and the shorter stumpy spike contain the female flowers with purple styles. There are actually 2 types of Silver Birch, one being a Downy Birch, so bear that in mind when photographing them. Leaves, bark and twigs are all slightly different in each species.

Back on the ground and these sedges look quite nice and they were abundant on the footpath through some light woodland. Sedges, rushes and grasses can all have attractive flowers but I find them hard to differentiate. I've now ordered a book to help me out, suggested by my BSBI County Recorder.

Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and North Western Europe - by Francis Rose

I hope it helps me out!
This is Wood Sedge

Carex sylvatica

Sunning itself on the path was a Comma butterfly. It's a bit worn, but then so would you be if you'd hibernated all Winter like these do.

 Polygonia c-album

Another common flower now is the Blackthorn, which can carpet whole hedgerows and road verges in white flowers, always nice to see, but mind those spikey spines!

Prunus spinosa

I almost missed this next flower. With many areas carpeted in the similar yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine, it's easy to zone out and miss other small yellow flowers.
This is the Yellow Pimpernel, found in woodland.

Lysimachia nemorum

The tiny flowers of Early Forget-me-not by the railway line. There were hundreds in flower. Check out my last blog for how to identify them from others in the family.

Myosotis ramosissima

Also along the railway line were numerous Wild Strawberries, most in flower. When I eventually decided to photograph one I ended up photographing a Barren Strawberry by mistake. It was a single plant growing in a mass of Wild Strawberries, just to confuse any would be botanist coming by.
The foreground leaves belong to the Barren and the larger glossier leaves in the background to the Wild Strawberry.
There are other differences, but I'll leave you to look those up!

Potentilla sterilis

Bang in the middle of the grass footpath along the railway was a Broad Bean! I've no idea how its large seed got there. The nearest arable field where they are grown is over a kilometre away. I reckon walkers picked some bean pods last year then discarded them on their walk. This one managed to flower despite being trodden on several times by walkers.

Vicia faba

These are the beautiful flowers of another prickly bush, Hawthorn. Like many plants there are different species such as Midland Hawthorn and its hybrid with Hawthorn itself.

Leaves are a good indicator of which species it is and also Hawthorn only has 1 style, whereas Midland and hybrid have 2 or a mix of 1 and 2 for the hybrid. These had just the 1 style.

Crataegus monogyna

Several Peacock butterflies were seen and I finally managed to snap one on the ground.

Again, these are over wintered insects that hibernated through the cold months.

Aglais io

The path entered Cobham Woods, much of which is ancient woodland where you will find indicator species such as this Bluebell. There were carpets of them in places with a heavenly scent.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

I was lucky enough to find a white one as well. I think the statistic is something like 1 in 100,000 Bluebells is likely to be white. This still means most woods have a few white variants in them as the Bluebells can be most numerous.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta var. alba

Among the Bluebells were the gorgeous Yellow Archangels. Much like the White Dead-Nettle but in sunshine yellow with orange/red markings on the lower petals.

If you find some with white or silvery blotches on the leaves it is the garden variant which has escaped from gardens into the wild in quite large numbers.

Lamiastrum galeobdolong

We then came into a clearing which I knew contained the rare and beautiful Lady Orchid. It will still be a few weeks before they come into flower, but it's nice to see the rosettes coming up again.

Orchis purpurea

Nearby were a few Early Purple Orchids. It's often the case that these two orchids grow in the same habitat, but this one is far more common than the Lady.

Orchis mascula

While in this small clearing, we were delighted to see our first Orange Tip butterflies of the Spring. I managed to photograph this one, though they rarely rest longer than a few seconds!

Anthocharis cardamines

On the edge of the clearing were plenty of violets, mainly Common dog Violets but also these Early or Wood Dog Violets.

Viola reichenbachiana

The final flowering plant was the Field Maple, a bushy hedgerow shrub/small tree with Sycamore type leaves.

The flowers aren't fully open here and it was breezy so the image isn't as sharp as I would have liked.

Acer campestre

That was about it for this walk. It's amazing what's coming into flower now, with a lot more to come soon. Spring can be a wildflower gorgeous time of the year!

Twitter:   @Barbus59


  1. Thank you. Great to see photos of so many spring flowers and butterflies whilst looking out on several inches of snow here!


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