Early Purple Orchid Walk – 30th April 2022
On 30 April, James Bradby led 10 wildflower-lovers on a walk to Conkwell Wood. The day was calm, dry and sunny.
We set off from the Angelfish Canal Visitor Centre, over Dundas Aqueduct, and at the bend we left the canal behind and climbed straight up the side of a grassy field by a bluebell wood. After a while we crossed the field diagonally upwards, entered a gully in the far woods (dry this time), and on up through Conkwell to ‘the top’.
Once on the plateau, we were soon in mixed mature woodland in dappled light. This is where we found abundant native Bluebells, and James pointed out bright Early Purple Orchids in flower and easy-to-miss Toothworts. Toothworts are ghostly looking plants – pale white because they don’t photosynthesise; instead they parasitise the roots of trees and shrubs such as beech and hazel. The woodland floor was lush and green, with low bramble cover in places. The black fungus King Alfred’s Cakes was in rows on some live and fallen tree trunks. They can be found in broadleaf woodlands, usually on fallen beech or ash.
Other wildflowers up to this point in our walk were: Comfrey, Primrose, White Dead Nettle, Red Campion, Violet, Alkanet, Forget-me-Not, Wood Anemone, honesty, Celandine, Daisy, Dandelion, Stitchwort, Lady’s Smock, Goosegrass, Ramsons, germander Speedwell, Yellow Archangel, Bugle, Lords and Ladies, Vetch, Garlic Mustard, Herb Robert and Dog’s Mercury: an ancient woodland indicator species.
We saw four species of butterfly: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Peacock and Holly Blue.
On our return to The Angelfish we walked a little further, along the track towards Monkton Combe. Here James pointed out easy-to-miss Twayblade and White Heleborine.
There was an easy atmosphere of common interest, with some of us wondering ‘why’ or ‘what’ … and others chipping in with a fact, a maybe, or a story.
Thank you, James, for a very enjoyable morning!
– By Sue Monk – 1st May 2022