THE RARE AND UNUSUAL
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.
An unusual parasitic plant of mature hazel and elm woodland.
Here we see tooth-like seed capsules, which give the plant
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
Autumn Crocus 05
Saffron, a spice of the
wealthy, the most expensive by weight of any spice in the
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
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
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
An unusual plant due to
its lack of pigment. It doesn't need chlorophyll because
it parasitises its nutrients from tree roots, especially
Broomrape Bean 01
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
A dinosaur of a plant.
Should be a fossil - and often is!!
Spring beauty 1
beauty Claytonia perfoliata
A very strange plant with an unusual flower - leaf arrangement.
Another herbal remedy, this time for Scurvy, or vitamin
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
Braunton Burrows, Devon,
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!
That such a bizarre bit of vegetation could change the world
to British Plants Gallery