• Greater Knapweed arrives on Bromyard Downs

    When you are very familiar with one particular site it tends to be very noticeable when changes occur, typically when a tree or plant is lost or a new plant suddenly appears. A couple of years back I discovered a single plant of monkshood growing near a car park on Bromyard Downs. How it arrived is pure speculation, but I suspect it was stuck in a car tyre, the mud on someone's boots or perhaps the coat of a dog. Anyway, it has continued to thrive, but has not yet spread.

    Walking the pups on the Downs yesterday I came upon two plants of greater knapweed - a species that I have never previously noted up there. Lots of the ordinary, smaller flowered, common knapweed, but never this plant and they were right next to footpaths so I think I would have spotted them previously. The plants were at least a quarter of a mile apart so very likely arrived separately.... but how?

    The only other colony of this plant locally, of which I'm aware, is in a floristically rich verge just up the road from our house. Twenty five years back there were a couple of large clumps of the plant and since then the seeds have been dragged over 100 yards down the lane in the backdraft of cars springing anew all along the hedges. Each year we chart their progress. The up side of continued belt tightening by local councils is that verges are much less often cut which means that wild flowers more often mature to reach the phase of producing viable seed. If that's the trade-off for unkempt verges long may it continue.

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