Friday, 13 July 2012

Wood Bitter-vetch - Vicia orobus V

I went back to Caerau Uchaf [see blog on 11th June] to see if this lovely and scarce vetch had appeared.  I made my way through large tussocks of Molinia into an unpromising corner of the field and there I found it in rough grassland below a stand of bracken.  It wasn't in flower and looked rather overwhelmed by the surrounding vegetation, common plants such as Holcus lanatus, Yorkshire Fog, Potentilla erecta, Tormentil,  Anthoxanthum odoratum, Sweet Vernal Grass and Carex binervis Green-ribbed Sedge.  It clearly seemed, as The New Atlas* says "...  adversely affected by overgrazing and undergrazing. "
Vicial orobus in flower
Thanks once again to John Crellin for both images

It has neat pinnate leaves with a short point instead of tendrils and the flowers are a lilac-pink veined with darker purple.  The whole plant has a bronze-ish tinge even before the calyx has  matured  and the pods are ripe, which helped me to find it even without flowers, but although I found more than two dozen clumps scattered through the grass, I left feeling concerned about it. 

V.  orobus, immature pods

"Britain has a significant proportion of the world population of this species" says the *Atlas, and I didn't feel confident that it was going to survive here.

The rest of the SSSI still looks as wonderful as before - I wonder what features of the habitat have led it to grow in this least special part of the site?!

*Preston, C D, Pearman, D A and Dines, T D, 2002, New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford

No comments:

Post a Comment