Monday, 27 July 2015

Great Staughton Churchyard

In stark contrast to most of Huntingdonshire's overly manicured churchyards, the churchyard at Great Staughton (or at least the part on the north side of the road)  is gloriously neglected and alive with flowers and insects.

The churchyard is notable for its swathes of Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare). This is a rare species in the county and is probably introduced at this location. This is supported by the diversity of forms present, some have the dense inflorescences, deep rose pink flowers and vividly purple bracts of the true wild form, while others have white or pale pink flowers, pale bracts and a much laxer inflorescence.

The churchyard also provided the great surprise of Des Etangs' St John's-wort (Hypericum x desetangsii nothosubsp. desetangsii) a species not previously recorded for the county. We shall have to start scrutinising our Perforate St John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum) a little more closely going forward, so check the sepals with a hand lens for small teeth.

The churchyard also had a nice colony of Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) and a swathe of Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra agg.). Much of it looked like a hybrid swarm, with flowers strongly resembling true C. nigra but much too small and with phyllaries variable in shape. A few plants resembled true Chalk Knapweed (Centaurea debeauxii) which is common on drier soils throughout the county, and given this species flowers slightly later this may help it stay true to type as it is still in bloom after true C. nigra has gone over.

The nearby River Kym was also looking good with abundant Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia), Yellow Waterlily (Nuphar lutea) and Common Club-rush (Schoenoplectus lacustris).

This little gem was on the bridge over the river - white flowered Hedgerow Crane's-bill (Geranium pyrenaicum f. albiflorum) which comes true from seed and had established a small colony.

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