Sunday, June 19, 2011

On the verge

I've been nagged by a friend for weeks to go and visit a heritage road verge (aka linear botanical nature reserve) about 10 miles north. Having been gallivanting about the country I've not had time until today.

And blimey it is a stunner. Wish I'd gone a few weeks ago, as the plants were a bit past their best (and I was fighting against a persistent, gusty wind today when trying to take photos. Gah). 3 new ticks on my botanical list though.

Honeydon verge (GR TL128582-129588) is a unique example of unimproved grassland with 3 nationally scarce species: sulphur clover (Trifolium ochroleucron), crested cow-wheat (Melampyrum cristatum) and spiked star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum).

I checked Abbott's seminal Flora Bedfordiensis (p.75) and even in 1798 spiked star of Bethlehem was considered rare (but in the same area as it is found now).

Here are my attempts at some pictures:

Crested cow-wheat (Melampyrum cristatum)

Spiked star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum)

Sulphur clover (Trifolium ochroleucron)

More info on Bedfordshire's verge nature reserves is available here and here.

More info on spiked star of Bethlehem is here.


  1. Three lovely plants there, and a nice bit of history to go with them. Not a bad bit of verge.

    Incidentally, is there such a thing as verge spurge?

  2. 'Not a bad bit of verge'?!?! Are we setting our verge standards a tad high here?
    Not sure what 'verge spurge' is or could be. You seen some then?

  3. Crested cow-wheat - now there's a plant I'd love to find, I'm dead jealous!

  4. Hi Mel :) As I noticed we both identified Keith's 'geranium' as Musk Mallow I thought I would pop over and take a look at your blog. I am glad I did and shall definitely be back.

  5. Hi Phil. Yes, first time I'd seen crested cow-wheat. There were carpets of it on this verge.

    Hi ShySongbird. Thanks for compliment :) Used to be a good patch of mush mallow on a path near here. But that seems to have dwindled to a few plants now. I collected some seeds a few years back so will scatter some next time I pass that way.