Locally, south-facing chalk downland has turned yellow over the past couple of weeks. It seems to be a great year for Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), Common Rockrose (Helianthemum nummularium) and in some places Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), these coupled with the odd buttercup all have similarly coloured flowers and are in full bloom at the moment. Good news indeed for many invertebrates especially the different species of blue butterflies that variously utilize these as food plants.
An evening stroll over the North Downs scarp at Denbies, nr Dorking last week proved extremely yellow but also provided a variation of one of these that transformed a beautiful plant into a real stunner.
Common Rockrose normally has bright yellow flowers (above) with papery petals that benefit from close inspection. However, on this occasion I was lucky enough to find a much lighter variant (left), that seem to enhance the ephemeral appearance of the normal flower, almost poppy-like. Although this variant is not uncommon, on this occasion I only found one amongst literally thousands of the normal form, I have seen it before and it is well worth looking out for.
A few Priest Hill facts
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