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Nature Notes – June 2019

Red and black beetle on small yellow flower.

The meadow is getting beautifully tall.

This is probably the best time of year for flower spotting and this neon pink Grass Vetchling, Lathyrus nissolia, is one of my favourites. As the name suggests, the rest of the plant looks very much like grass, making it almost impossible to find when it’s not in flower. Fortunately, the bright pink flowers have spread to make quite a large patch this year, so its hard to miss right now. There are also some plants with only white flowers.

Another plant that can be hard to find is purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius. Technically not native, it’s like a purple version of the native goat’s beard, Tragopogon pratensis, which is also called Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon. It gets this name because it closes its flowers at around midday, leaving only green spikes surrounded by green grass – virtually invisible.

Purple flowers seen from above with grass underneath.
Salsify growing in the meadow – taken around midday, you can see the flowers on the right are beginning to close.

Last Thursday morning, Keith spotted a slightly odd looking salsify, which turns out to be an unusual hybrid of the purple and yellow flowers, Tragopogon x mirabilis, or hybird goat’s beard.

Purple petals surrounding a yellow centre.
Hyrbid goat’s beard, Tragopogon x mirabilis

Because the meadow, in its current version, isn’t very old, there are always new plants arriving along the river or emerging from dormancy in the soil seed bank. If you spot something you think is new, please let us know!

– Hester