Burnt-tip Orchids in Sussex
Neotinia ustulata grows in a few places locally
The Orchid is on the Red List but locally frequent because it likes the short chalk downland turf. I’ve heard that another local haunt is Mount Caburn near Lewes. Last year I was pleased to be able to catch it in flower in mid July in Cradle Valley Seaford. This year I came a couple of weeks earlier to help with the count by Seaford Natural History Society led by Chris Brewer.
Counting Burnt-tip orchid – Neotinea ustulata
When we were counting, we found that marking with yellow flags helped us to see where we’d been – see main image above. These orchids have been monitored here for twelve years and seem to be holding their own.
You can see more pics and descripion of Burnt tip orchid here.
More flowers of Cradle Valley Seaford
While we were out we bumped into local wildlife photographer Bob Eade. He’s actually in the pic below, in the far distance, lost in the landscape. On the right you can see part of the Rathfinny wine estate, and on the left a lovely bank of flowers in short grass protected by the hill.
After counting I wandered home in my own time, taking a few wildflower pics along the way. I was very much aware that I visited here at a similar time last year so was trying not to take all of the same photos again. Flowers spotted but not photographed include Rock-rose, Round-headed Rampion, Pyramidal Orchid and Ox-eye Daisy.
Common Fragrant Orchid – Gymnadenia conopsea
I was somewhat more confident about the Fragrant orchid ID this year, having read up on the long spurs, upper sepal and petals forming a hood over the flower lip, and rose pink colour.
Perforate St Johns Wort – Hypericum perforatum
I’ve photographed Perforate St Johns Worts many times, but this plant showed the petal markings very well. The leaf spots are just visible on the left.
Milkwort – Polygala
This was a nice big specimen – I often find them in very short, rabbit-nibbled, windswept cliff grass where they barely have any stem at all and tiny flowers. Here it was more sheltered. As usual, I’m not confident in distinguishing between Common vulgaris and Chalk calcarea. Ignore the big hairy leaf in front of the pic!
Hedge bedstraw – Galium mollugo
Common Centaury – Centaurium erythraea
Quaking grass – Briza media
You can also see a bit of Quaking grass growing next to the Burnt tip Orchid higher up the page.
Bastard Toadflax – Thesium humifusum
This Toadflax is not a Linaria and isn’t even in the same family. It is hemiparasitic, which means it has chlorophyll and carries out photosynthesis but is partially dependent on a plant host that it is connected to – another example is Mistletoe Viscum album.
Hoary Plantain – Plantago media
I was pleased to find this as I’ve been quietly working my way through UK Plantains. The blousy pale pink flowers were very pretty, and the leaves visibly downy.
Yellow Rattle – Rhinanthus minor
The Rattle had gone over and was rattling when I arrived at Cradle Valley in mid July last year. Being a couple of weeks earlier, I managed to catch it in flower.
Thanks to Chris for pointing out the Bastard Toadflax and Hoary Plantain.