Sunday, 17 August 2014

Fluellens at your feet!

Such a pretty little flower!
 If you walk around the edge of stubble fields in Hampshire at the moment, especially on the lighter chalky soils, you are quite likely to come across a little plant called Fluellen. There are two species, the Round leaved and the Sharp leaved and they make the most of the fact that the tall crop has been removed allowing lots of light onto these rather prostrate little plants.

I have rather a soft spot for these little plants, along with most plants associated with arable fields, as they have quite a lot to contend with in order to survive – herbicides, fertilisers, tall competitive crops and cultivations carried out at times that don’t necessarily suit them.
This seems to be a particularly good year for Fluellens, with some field corners have quite a mat of them growing where the sprayer has not got to. They are dead easy to walk past without really noticing them, but if you do spot any, get down on your belly and join them in their ground level world. On closer inspection you will be rewarded with an exotic looking little Snap-Dragonesque yellow flower with purplish upper “ears” and a long curved spur coming from the base. Miniature stunners!

The two species are separated most easily by looking at the leaves – yes you've got it – one has sharp pointed leaves and the other one has rounded leaves!

We may well not always notice these late flowering beauties as we walk past, but as I spent some time photographing them, I noticed that Bumble bees are most certainly aware of them. There seemed to be a steady stream of bees coming by and they appeared to be solely concentrating on the nectar that these diminutive flowers had concealed within them.
Fluellens grow in quite a prostrate manner

Sharp-leaved Fluellen

Round-leaved Fluellen

No comments:

Post a Comment