Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Globe flower and meadow saxifrage

 Teesdale is a favourite destination for botanists in spring, principally because it is home to the stunning blue flowers of spring gentian Gentiana verna, which is usually at its best in the first two weeks of May. But the dale is full of botanical treasures, including the beautiful globe flower Trollius europaeus (below). Last week we found it in a place where we've never seen it before, on the bank of the river Tees downstream from Egglestone abbey bridge.

This has also been a wonderful late spring for meadow saxifrage Saxifraga granulosa (below). While not nationally rare, it is a declining species. We found one meadow absolutely full of its elegant white flowers, which remind me of the finest porcelain. Meadow saxifrage reproduces by seed and also by tiny vegetative buds called bulbils, at the base of the leaves. I suspect that one of the reasons why the plant sometimes reaches high densities in meadows is that the bulbils are transported and dispersed on mud on the hooves of livestock, that traditionally graze the 'aftermath' in hay meadows after the hay has been cut. 

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