Friday, 3 July 2015


While taking the pictures of Kidney Vetch I thought I would also take a few of the "extinct" species that has appeared on Banstead Downs this summer.   About a month ago, I found a couple of plants of Corncockle (Agrostemma githago) growing on a patch of bare chalk. exposed where bonfire ash had been buried.  Corncockle is one of those species, including Poppies and Cornflower, referred to as cornfield weeds, annuals that do not compete well with other species and hence tend to grow on disturbed soil.  Modern agricultural practivce has virtually eradicated them.   It would be nice to think that these plants germinated from seed buried since the Downs were cultivated during WW2 and is a genuine wild plant.  Unfortunately the fact that it was growing very vigorously and associated with equally vigorous Poppy plants suggests that someone may have scattered some "wildflower" seed.  It is a beautiful flower nevertheless.

Amusingly, when I Googled the status of the species on the web, the first pages to come up included this example of newspaper nonsense from last summer.  Equally apparently the BBC Countryfile programme caused a bit of a stir as well!  So sad.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

White Kidney Vetch

A couple of days ago Steve Gale wrote about the remarkable amount of Kidney Vetch on Banstead Downs, it is one of the best years for this seasonal plant for a long time.   However what was all yellow a couple of weeks ago is now pinky-brown, flowering over for the year.... except: whilst walking round the Downs yesterday I noticed a patch that didn't look quite right, it was white-flowered  Kidney Vetch.    

I have seen Kidney Vetch in many shades of yellow and on sea cliffs you can find pink and red forms but I have never seen white before.  

Yesterday when I didn't have a camera the flowers were out but by this morning when I was able to get over there with a camera, they had already started to shrivel, hence the poor pictures, the second shows the comparison with the more normal yellow..  

In all I found two plants!!  But enough for me to get back to blogging... perhaps!