The Pasque Flower

The Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is a beautiful purple flowering plant that is from the buttercup family. It would have been widespread in England until changes to farming techniques in the 18th& 19th Century.   It now naturally occurs in 18 or so limestone and chalk sites in the South of England, including our own Barnack Hills & Holes. The Barnack siting is one of only five prominent locations where the Pulsatilla occurs in large numbers.

The flower gets its name from the Latin for Easter (Pasca) almost certainly because it blossoms in early to mid-spring, coinciding with the Christian celebration. The flower prefers, low nutrient, grazed, limestone grassland.  It struggles to compete with rank grasses and scrub like bramble and blackthorn.  

Read more: The Pasque Flower

Livestock on the Hills and Holes Sept 2018

Pyramid OrchidBy the time you are reading this article there will be livestock present on the Hills and Holes again. If all goes to plan this will include ponies as well as sheep this year. The mix of different types of livestock should help to improve the grassland quality and increase biodiversity.  The impact of grazing, on the number and spread of rare plant species, is illustrated by the fact that we continue to see an increase in Pasque flower numbers in the monitored plots. These flowers have also now spread right across the reserve. Without annual grazing the coarser grasses and plant species will quickly take over followed by scrub and eventually trees. 

Read more: Livestock on the Hills and Holes Sept 2018

Have you spotted a hummingbird in your garden?

hawkmothIf you grow Valerian or Buddleia you will almost certainly have had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful little moth in your garden, which, with its long proboscis, its hovering behaviour and its audible humming noise you could be forgiven for thinking was a hummingbird.

This little imposter is a hummingbird hawkmoth, Macroglossum stellatarum.

Read more: Have you spotted a hummingbird in your garden?

The Tree Bumble Bee

Tree BumblebeeHave you seen the newly arrived Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)? It is very distinctive, being orange at the head end, then black and it has a white tail. It flew in from France and was seen first in southern counties.

It feeds on nectar and pollen and prefers open flowers like daisies to tubular flowers such as foxgloves.

Read more: The Tree Bumble Bee