Eyhorne Green west and Eureka Park, Ashford, Kent - 05/07/20

 Eyhorne Green west isn't a place as such, but that's the name of TQ8254 on the BSBI database. To me it's the A20 flyover by the M20 Leeds Castle intersection. This intersection has now long been built but I guess it would qualify as a brownfield site comprising of artifical banks made for that road junction. The soil is very sandy and the only reason I went there was to see Orobanche rapum-genistae or Greater Broomrape at its only Kent location. I found plenty of interesting wildflowers but I found no Greater Broomrapes at all. Very disappointing. It was likely that any spikes found would have gone over but there weren't even any of those. Perhaps it was the extended Spring drought we had this year, though why that should affect them I don't know. They attach themselves to Gorse and Broom and steal water and nutrients from them and they were present aplenty and in good health too.

I hope they come up next year and aren't lost to Kent.


Below are some of the other plants I found here.

A beautiful pink Musk Mallow.

Malva moschata

More pink flowers, Common Centaury

Centaurium erythraea


The tiny, but strikingly blue flowers of Bugloss

Anchusa arvensis

 
Lords and Ladies in fruit, ripening through orange to red for the Winter.
 
Arum maculatum

I found a shrivelled up plant with these seeds on it. From past experience I knew these were from Houndstongue, a Kent RPR species.

I was then fortunate to find a Houndstongue still in flower, with the flowers having an intense burgundy colour.

Cynoglossum officinale


 

A not too brilliant photo of Lesser Stitchwort, a small but attractive flower that can carpet some areas at this time of year.




Stellaria graminea



Of course, thin poor soils always have some sedums and here was the same. This is White Stonecrop.

Sedum album



Some Field forget-me-not . It was a bit breezy so I had to steady the plant to get any sort of photo. These start flowering in the spring and carry on until late Summer, quite a remarkably long flowering period really.




Myosotis arvensis




I was fortunate to find some Common Cudweed too. This photo shows the fine sandy soil here perfectly. In such soils in Kent it is not uncommon to find this plant. In fact all around this plant were mature Gorse bushes and I had hoped that finding a way through them I might have found a Greater Broomrape, but not this time! The wood at the base of the Cudweed is actually a root of a very old Gorse bush that resembled a small tree complete with trunk.

Filago germanica ( formerly Filago vulgaris)

 
I have a thing for Fabaceae and one of the commonest species that I see in Kent is Bush Vetch. It really does brighten up a road verge or brownfield site or any one of a number of places in which it can be found. Often it's a large clump of untidy flowers, some budding, some going over, a bit like this one. As such, they flower well into the Winter.
 
Vicia sepium


From here I drove down to Ashford, to the Eureka Park Industrial Estate near the M20, another brownfield site. The purpose this time was to see Parentucellia viscosa (Yellow Bartsia). This is another plant that has to date eluded me. It's present in large numbers at a site in Kingsnorth, Grain but when I went I was tured away by site security. I found from records that it was present here at several sites on the estate, but try as I might I failed to find this too! I did find it elsewhere eventually but that's for another July blog not yet written!

Here's some of the interesting plants I did find here though.

 


 


Two in one with Wild Carrot and Weld.



Daucus carota ssp carota and Reseda luteola







This was again on a sandy soil and I found Small Cudweed here, which had been recorded from this site before. I found a lot of it growing in disturbed areas where the grass had been displaced by rabbits and disturbance from bikers.

These look fairly large , but were in fact 2-3" tall at most.

Logfia minima (formerly Filago minima)

 
It's cousin, Common Cudweed was present in several patches too. These were mostly short, thick and stumpy in nature, a completely different form to the drought starved specimen photographed above at Eyhorne Green.
 
Filago germanica

Here's a typical habitat photo for the cudweeds and most other plants featured here. You can make out the disturbed areas in the foreground favoured by Small Cudweed in particular. Old OS  maps though this area was likely part arablle and part golf course as far back as 1920. It has only recently been part developed, and no doubt in time, all of it will be built on.

Near to the hump in the background of the above photo I found a vigourous White Mellilot bush about 3 feet tall. The white flowers, when fresh, are beautiful. I can't think of other Fabaceae with white flowers as standard in Kent, so I do like finding these. These also can flower well into Winter and have featured on my New Year Plant Hunts on occasions being in flower on the 1st of January!

Melilotus albus

Mid Summer is a good time to find Hoary Ragwort. When mature it is easily told apart from Common and other ragworts by its leaves and how they are arranged. Here's a photo of the whole plant with the leaves shown as typical for this species. The grey undersides are silvery hairy hence the name and they alternate up the stem with little branching. The flowers are mostly quite large too.


Senecio erucifolius

This plant was surrounded by another Senecio which on the face of it looked like giant Groundsel plants! However, on a closer look the flowers had tiny ray petals that Groundsel (usually) lacks. The sandy soil also gives a clue that this had to be Heath Groundsel, a plant I don't often see as I live in a chalky alkaline area.

Senecio sylvatica




I then found some lovely looking Hare's-foot Clover that I usually find in Kent coastal areas such as Littlestone or Sandwich. I guess the sandy soil here was to their liking as it was flourishing in some areas.


Trifolium arvense


The final plant of interest I found here was a humble Viola. At first glance it looked like a Field Pansy on steroids as the flower was quite a bit bigger than usual. I quickly saw it was the hybrid between Viola tricolor and Viola arvensis. The flower is somewhat three dimensional (V. tricolor is more or less flat), the petals were more or less the same length as the sepals (in V. arvensis the sepals are much longer than petals - in V. tricolor the petals hide all of the sepals being much bigger) and the colour of all of the petals were infused with purple showing a blend of genes. I have the BSBI Viola handbook and always check such anomolous plants, but it's fairly apparent once you get your eye in. I think these are more common than records suggest and are overlooked by some recorders. Some populations have introgressed back with a parent (usually V. arvensis and thus as time goes by the traits of V. tricolor lessen and then disappear again.

Hybrid Pansy

Viola tricolor x Viola arvensis = V. x contempta

There were a few Viola arvensis about but as is usually the case in Kent, Viola tricolor was absent.

And so ended a glorious day botanising in Kent. I failed to find two key species that I went out to look for, but I was rewarded with some other fine plants, so I went home happy regardless.


Take care

Dave

@Barbus59









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