Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Holborough and Strood areas Kent - 13/05/18

This is a continuation of my last blog, having left Ranscombe Farm to replace my camera battery.
 I visited a chalk bank by the tidal River Medway at Strood (from McDonald's to Diggerland) . It was only constructed within the last 10 years and contains a host of wildflowers and a few aliens naturalised from nearby flower beds. There is some salt marsh as well.

There was a single very large Broom bush in full flower, oddly it was growing just above the high tide line. I;m sure a winter storm surge would kill it off!

Cytisus scoparius

The chalk bank was dotted with Kidney Vetch. 

Anthyllis vulneraria

Under my feet in the salt marsh were several stands of English Scurvygrass. The flowers aren't very big, but still much bigger than the roadside Danish Scurvygrass.

Cochlearia anglica 

Seed pod.

Viper's Bugloss with its attractive blue and purple flowers on the chalk bank.

Echium vulgare

Above is Common Storkbill, usually a tiny plant with small flowers, and left are its seed pods.

Erodium cicutarium

Two Geraniums followed, above with its larger flowers being Hedgerow Cranesbill and left with small flowers and very rounded leaves is Round-leaved Cranesbill.

Geranium pyrenaicum
Geranium rotundifolium

A Green Veined White that I had to follow a while for a photo. It appears to be egg laying on a Hoary Cress plant.

There were plenty of yellow composites about, including Bristly Oxtongue, Smooth Hawksbeard, Hawkweed Oxtongue and this Cat's Ear.

Hypochaeris radicata 

Field Scabious with attendant beetle.

Knautia arvensis

Here's the first alien plant I found which had me baffled for a while.

It's a Star of Bethlehem and was on its own amidst a plethora of native chalk loving plants.

Ornithogalum umbellatum subsp campestre

Pink Sorrel was next, a common garden escape which I've even found deep into woodland.

Oxalis articulata

This poppy was more orange than red and that alerted me that it was most likely a Long-headed Poppy.

Papaver dubium

And this seedhead nearby proved it was.

It's easy to get totally confused by yellow flowered crucifers. Books will tell about leaf shapes and lobes and so on, but in truth, most are so variable in form those descriptions are next to useless for many species.

However, if the plant has seed pods it becomes a whole lot easier.

The photo below shows a close up of the pod of this plant which is Bastard Cabbage. It's the only species with a pod this shape held pressed to the stem.

Rapistrum rugosum

Yellow Rattle was likely sown when this bank was created but they help suppress grasses and increase potential for other less competitive species - or so I've read.

Rhinanthus minor 

Even if you're not into botany, you probably have White Clover in your lawn. Take a closer look and you'll see it isn't one flower, but at leaast 40-60 tiny flowers held in a ball. A complete flower display in one tiny plant.

Trifolium repens

Form here I drove the short distance to Holborough for a look around both the KWT reserve and the surrounding area for botanical records.

I'm just starting out on identifying grasses and this was one of the first, a Meadow Foxtail.

Alopecurus pratensis 

The massive hybrid orchid on the reserve was about to flower. It's been here a few years now with its very impressive spotted/barred foliage and massive flower heads. Alas I was a week too early to see it in its glory.

It's the hybrid between Early Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids.

D x kernerorum

On a railway footpath was a stand of Greater Celandines, a long naturalised garden escape. This same location was the first place I ever saw it back in 2013.

Chelidonium majus

Holborough is renowned for its sedges and rushes, though sadly I had no idea what most of them I saw were. I did identify this one as Slender Spike Rush.

 Eleocharis uniglumis

And this plant is related to ferns.

It's a Marsh horsetail and there were thousands of them in the meadows and ditches.

Equisetum palustre

Off the reserve and near the main A228 road I stumbled across a large colony of the rare Little Robin. These have been recorded heer and are known, though I didn't realise that at the time, so was rather excited! These are the first I've seen of this usually coastal species.

They look like very small Herb Roberts with smaller less lobed leaves and very small flowers (as shown), but the main and striking difference is that the pollen on the anthers is yellow and not orange as in Herb Robert.

Geranium purpureum


Seed pods

Yellow Flags were out in large numbers in the ditches, like shining beacons of gold in the green of the fen.

Iris pseudocorus 

I found a medium sized pond covere in this plant which floated with woody stems draping roots below. I had no idea what it was but researched it later. I found it was an alien species called Parrot's Feather and is spreading rapidly through waterways via throw outs from the aquarium trade.

Myriophyllum aquaticum 

An Orange Tip butterfly from the reserve

Celery-leaved Buttercup

This is supposed to grow in damp or wet areas, but this small stunted plant was on top of a pile of dumped hardcore which couldn't have been a drier habitat!

Ranunculus sceleratus


I usually see Sheep's Sorrel on dry heaths or unimproved grassland and it's mostly less than a foot tall as a result.

These plants were on an industrial estate and were around three feet tall.

Rumex acetosella

The last photograph is of the bright yellow Biting Stonecrop just coming into flower. Once fully opened they form dense golden yellow mats of flowers on thin soils over concrete, shingle, old pavements and the like.

Sedum acre

If you consider that this day I saw all the plants described in my previous blog at Ranscombe Farm and those here, I certainly had a great day botanising. There were many more wildflowers I didn't include as well.

I hope you enjoyed the blog, until next time.

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