Fawkham Church area, Kent - 30/05/19

This area is local to me and only a few hundred yards south of where I live. There are relicts of Beech woodland over chalk and a few unspoilt areas, so the flora is relatively good.

In those woodland areas were numerous spikes of White Helleborines. In previous years I had counted 72 in one area with most being bitten off by deer before flowering. However, this year most were in flower or in bud, so it was a good year for this species.

The flowers usually don't open much, but there are always a few that open a bit more than others, and these, unsurprisingly tend to get photographed the most.

For those readers that don't know, this is a wild orchid and only thrives in heavy shade, usually under or around beech trees on chalk or limestone. It's relatively rare and a Kent RPR species.

Cephalanthera damasonium

Another beautiful plant was nearby on a road verge, but this time it wasn't a native plant but a garden escape. It's Rosy Garlic and I see this quite often around the county having escaped into the wild.

Allium roseum

Hemlock is one of several umbellifers I am featuring in this blog. This one is very poisonous and can easily be identified by its purple blotched stem and sickly green foliage.

This particular specimen was an impressive 8 feet tall.

Conium maculatum

The next umbellifer featured today is Pignut, usually found in shady alkaline woodlands. This species has very fine and delicate feathery stem leaves which can be seen in the second photo. They are also often much "weedier" looking than this one.

A Small Heath feeds on Ribwort Plantain, a common flower in lawns and grassy areas.

Wildflowers attract pollinators such as flies, beetles, bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and many more. All are food for higher animals such as bats and birds. Kill the wildflowers, kill the foodchain. This is such a simple concept I fail to understand why we as a society do what we do to the environment.

A view of the Beech woodland near to my home.

This woodland has arable fields around it; some years everything gets sprayed into oblivion, some years no sprays are used. I guess this year must be one of the latter years as I found this Dwarf Spurge on a field edge, another Kent RPR species.

Euphorbia exigua


This next plant had me rather excited as I thought it might be the hybrid between Field and Wild Pansies. However, I now have the BSBI Viola handbook and going through the key, it turns out this is just a Field Pansy, albeit with beautifully coloured upper petals.

Viola arvensis

Back in the woodland and I found another Kent RPR species that hadn't been recorded here before, the Heath Speedwell. It's flowers grow on  long racemes or spikes and the leaves are usually heavily serrated, making it markedly different from all the other speedwells.

Veronica officinalis

 My final umbellifer is the Sanicle, another woodland umbellifer rarely found outside shaded areas.

The odd looking flowers and palmately lobed leaves make this an easy one to identify and yet again, it's a Kent RPR species.

Sanicula europaeus

I'll leave you with a habitat shot for White Helleborines, though you could add to this Heath Speedwell and Sanicle as both were found nearby. You can just make out a White Helleborine in the photo and for a plant that is a few feet tall, it's quite surprising how you can just walk past them without even seeing them in the gloom of the canopy.

Until next time, take care,


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