Wildflowers on the Local Nature Reserve
Seaford Head nature reserve is generally speaking quite an exposed site on chalk next to the sea. There is a golf course nearby and lots of access for dog walking and tourists who like to visit the beach at Cuckmere Haven or view the Seven Sisters cliffs.
A plant spotting hike in May
To celebrate the partial relaxation of lock-down I took myself off for a four hour hike over Seaford Head Local Nature Reserve with my decent camera for close-ups and a packed lunch. There was some cloud and a fresh wind but that was just the right weather for a walk.
I chatted with a Sussex Wildlife Trust ranger who pointed me to a patch of milkwort, Polygala. She also recommended a return visit in a couple of weeks to see even more flowers as the cows used for land management had just been moved off to a new area.
Here are some of my favourite wildflowers of the day:
Common dog-violet – Viola riviniana
Spotted in short grass near the golf course. Violas are of particular interest to me this year as I have been learning how to identify them.
Moon carrot – Seseli libanotis
Moon carrot is a rare flower found on Seaford Head – there is a sign about it by the footpath, which you can read below. I think it has a pink flower bud which I spotted on my walk, but I might be wrong! It has leaves which look a bit like carrot foliage but the whole plant is more substantial and downier.
Germander speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys
I can’t resist the clear royal blue of veronica flowers. I seem to have hit peak season for this species, they were everywhere! The one photographed was in dappled shade in lush grass, but there were a lot less perfect specimens in more exposed but sunny spots. For the first time I noticed how the older flowers on exposed sites were fading to attractive shades of lavender.
Deadly nightshade – Atropa belladonna
This was the first time I’d seen this plant and nearly dismissed it as a cultivated shrub. It was growing in a more sheltered dell among managed woodland.
Two shades of milkwort
Milkwort’s tiny flowers are almost at the limit of what I can manage photographically but I was in luck today. I spotted the common blue form and a magenta pink one too, which I hadn’t seen before. These were found in short exposed grass. I’m assuming these are Polygala vulgaris, common milkwort, but I’m not experienced enough to differentiate between vulgaris and the rarer calcarea which is sometimes spotted in the area.
Ground-ivy – Glechoma hederacea
These two pics are from populations only a few metres apart, but one was near the speedwell above in lush semi-shade. The other was in exposed full sun and has a reddish tint to the leaves.
Wild strawberry – Fragaria vesca
And many more
I also visited Seaford Head in June 2020, where I spotted the Moon carrot in full flower.