Saturday, 23 June 2007

Parasitic plants

Last week I forgot to mention that the two calves were called Rob and Roy. They will be joined by two more cattle this week.

This month is a peak time to look for flowers in the countryside. We have bee and pyramidal orchids in the car park! I'm not a real botanist but there are so many amazing plants out there that it is hard to select a few to look at. Perhaps the most wierd are the parasitic plants that have no green parts. They don't make clorophyl so they steal it from their hosts.

In Dodder Fen we have Great Dodder which is parasitic on nettles. It seems to require some disturbance to get it going so we rotivate or rake large areas each year. Apparently it likes wet flood meadows where anglers push their way through the nettles to get to the river. I presume cattle would do the same job. This year seems to be a good year for it anyway.

Common Broomrape (see picture) looks like a dead orchid. It is parasitic on clovers and usually turns up near the Beach on Cloudy Pit, but not every year. This year I found some near the old pig-styes at Wray House Farm.