Thursday, 7 June 2012

Porton Down visit

Nearly two weeks ago now I attended a visit with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust's botany group to Porton Down, at which I learnt so much and was introduced to some plant species that I'd never seen before.  Because the site has been owned by the Ministry of Defence for so long, the habitats are undeveloped.  I had never experienced such an unbroken expanse of chalk grassland, so rich in species.  Still over a week later I am still processing what I saw and adding to the list.  A few of the rare species were quite inconspicuous - I'll mention them another time. 

My list of orchids seen stood at one before the visit so the highlight of the visit was seeing the Lady Orchid, (Orchis purpurea) at its only site in Hampshire.    I will illustrate here the lovely Lady Orchid and the parasitic Bird's Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis) which grows under the shade of beech.  The other orchid in full flower was the White Helleborine, but at least another four species were in leaf or bud. 

 Orchis purpurea (Lady Orchid)                       Neottia nidus-avis (Bird's Nest Orchid)

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