Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Beauty

This unusual plant is spring beauty Claytonia perfoliata, which has flowers that appear in the centre of a leaf that surrounds the stem - what botanists call a perfoliate leaf. Some honeysuckle species have perfoliate leaves and so does the delightful native yellow wort Blackstonia perfoliata ............ but spring beauty is an exotic introduction, hailing from North America, all the way from Alaska down to Mexico.

With such a broad geographical range it's perhaps not surprising that it has escaped from British gardens and settled into the countryside, establishing itself in areas of disturbed sandy soil. We found a lot of it in bloom along the landward edge of Holkham NNR last week - an alien species that doesn't seem to present any kind of threat to our native flora, merely adding a little unconventional botanical interest to the countryside. 

13 comments:

  1. What an unusual plant. Like a tiny flower in the middle of a satellite dish.

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  2. I hate to admit to never seeing such a thing. It's impressive. Thank you once again.

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  3. I've not noticed anything like that either, very strange looking.

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  4. Nice comparison Keith - certainly is like a satellite dish

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  5. Very strange plant, Adrian - slightly alien-looking

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  6. Hi John, apparently it's grown as a salad crop, under the name winter purslane...

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  7. What a sweet little plant.

    "...an alien species that doesn't seem to present any kind of threat to our native flora." What's your opinion of Himalayan Balsam Phil?

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  8. I rather like Himalayan balsam Lesley but not everyone agrees - see http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.com/2009/07/botanical-xenophobia.html

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  9. I followed your link, Phil, and read what you had to say on Himalayan Balsam. At last..... someone else who likes it and a botanist to boot! :D I've always thought it a lovely plant and remember the subtle 'plummy' scent that it has. I like how the flowers vary from shades of dark aubergine to the palest of pink..... and it's great fun popping the pods and seeing how far the seeds catapult. :O) Best of all, as you point out, it's a marvellous source of food for the bees. I would grow some in the garden but I think I read some time ago that it was illegal to cultivate it?

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  10. Hi Lesley, it's not illegal to cultivate it in gardens - I found a purple-leaved seedling the other day that I'm growing in mine..

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  11. That's good to hear. :) I'll get myself seeds when some are ready. As a garden plant, it has a lot going for it..... exotic looks, good for screening, attracts bees and it's easily confined to where you want it to grow as stray seedlings are easily removed. Maybe we can persuade people of its true value! :D

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  12. It grows abundantly in Bunhill Fields (cemetery) in the City of London

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    1. That's interesting - I wonder how it got there? I don't see it very often but when I do there's generally quite a lot of it.

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