wildlife,  NATURE,  Environment,  PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS





I couldn't resist putting together a small sample of the weird and wonderful plants I've photographed.  Some are simply beautiful albeit rare (a connection maybe?), whereas others are oddities and arouse the imagination in terms of evolution.




Toothwort 05




An unusual parasitic plant of mature hazel and elm woodland.  Here we see tooth-like seed capsules, which give the plant its name.




Butterwort 04




A carnivorous plant of bog and fen that is quite scarce and not easy to find.  The insects get stuck on the leaves and are digested externally to the plant.   It looks such a delicate and pretty thing!




Autumn Crocus 05


Autumn crocus


Saffron, a spice of the wealthy, the most expensive by weight of any spice in the world (see link). 

The spice is the dried parts of the stalk and reproductive organs.  It is strictly a cultivated plant derived from this, the wild variety, Crocus sativus.  A few colonies of this beautiful plant grows close to my home.  This is remarkable, because it typically thrives in dry mediterranean habitats with dry winds.  When growing in damper climates it is very sensitive to the timing of rainfall, drainage and cold.  It can tolerate all 3, but in the wrong sequence it can be a disaster.  The flowers close to my home are quite reliable, and guess what, may prove that global warming is not a worry!





Martagon Lily 05                                                                                 Snakes Head fritillary 23


                    Martagon lily                                     Snakes head fritillary


The Martagon Lily is an extremely showy plant but rare in the UK.   A very small colony of native Martagon Lilies exists in woodland close to my home in the Wye Valley.  Often called the "Turk's Cap" for obvious reasons.






Pasque Flower 19


Pasque flower


The garden variety of this plant is hairy and not the same.  They exist in Gloucestershire at a small nature reserve in the Cotswolds.

It is a highly toxic plant that grows mainly in the USA.  It is used by medicine men to treat heart conditions such as high blood pressure (it slows the heart).  It is also used by the Blackfeet Indians to induce abortions!  All this and it is the official state flower of South Dakota!!






Yellow Birds Nest 05


Yellow birds nest


An unusual plant due to its lack of pigment.  It doesn't need chlorophyll because it parasitises its nutrients from tree roots, especially beech.






Broomrape Bean 01                                                                                     Bogbean 19


                    Bean broomrape                                          Bogbean


A larger and more common family of parasitic plants are the broomrapes.  It gets nutrients from the roots of nearby growing plants such as cultivated beans (shown), knapweed and ivy.


Bogbean, or Water Shamrock, is a well known herbal remedy for arthritus and rheumatism.  It seems to have hairy petals!





Field Horsetail 06


Field horsetail


A dinosaur of a plant.  Should be a fossil - and often is!!





Spring beauty 1


Spring beauty     Claytonia perfoliata


A very strange plant with an unusual flower - leaf arrangement.  Another herbal remedy, this time for Scurvy, or vitamin C deficiency.  

It is an American native, and the Californian gold rush miners used to eat it for this reason.

This was photographed on a Wildlife Trust nature reserve in Leicestershire were it grows in the wild.




Sasnd Toadflax 02


Sand toadflax

Braunton Burrows, Devon, 2006.


A very rare diminutive plant tolerant of dry arid conditions.  It is actually an introduced species (c1892) and just hangs on in the dune systems of  Devon.

It gets my vote as the most boring and seemingly useless rare plant of the UK.  But I challenge you to find it without help - like I did!




Cotton grass


That such a bizarre bit of vegetation could change the world is astounding!!!!!!




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