All of the members of the Broomrape family are parasitic on other plants. They steal all of their nutrients from other plants, producing none of their own. Because of this they have no need for leaves or chlorophyll, the chemical plants use to harvest sunlight and which makes them green. The Lesser Broomrape will parasitize a wide range of plants but is particularly fond of clovers.
THE MEADOW WHERE OUR WILDFLOWER TRAIL WAS HAS NOW BEEN CUT TO PROVIDE SEED FOR DORSET COUNCIL'S WILDFLOWER MEADOW ON HILFIELD HILL. YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE MEADOWS BECAUSE WE ALWAYS LEAVE SOME AREAS UNCUT TO PROVIDE HABITAT FOR WILDLIFE.
The Twayblade is easily overlooked due to its green flowers, but closer inspection will reveal architecture just as intricate and beautiful as its more colourful cousins. It also houses a special trick to help with pollination. When an insect touches it, the flower squirts out a sticky liquid, gluing the pollen in place. Thanks to this, it is one of the most successfully pollinated orchids. The name comes from its two (Tway) leaves (blades).
The Yellow Rattle is a very useful tool in the management of wildflower meadows. It is partially parasitic on grass. Its roots penetrate those of the grass stealing some of its nutrients. This helps to hold the grass in check, creating more space for wildflowers. It also has green leaves and is able to synthesise its own food.
This beautiful flower is a real trickster. It has evolved to look and smell like a female solitary bee. Male solitary bees are attracted to try to mate with her and get a parcel of pollen stuck on the back of their head by the plants special anther. They then hopefully visit another Bee Orchid and so pollinate it. This deception saves the plant from making nectar to attract pollinators like most other flowers.
This is the kind of grass we want in a wildflower meadow. It is what we would describe as a fine grass. This means it is not to aggressive so will not crowd out the flowers. It has many common names including quaking-grass, cow-quake, didder, dithering-grass, dodder-grass, doddering dillies, doddle-grass, earthquakes, jiggle-joggles, jockey-grass, lady’s-hair, maidenhair-grass, pearl grass, quakers, quakers-and-shakers, shaking-grass, tottergrass, and wag-wantons. Can you think of your own name for it?
Common Spotted Orchid
The most common species of orchid in the UK, named for its spotty leaves. This orchid provides nectar to a range of insects and is particularly attractive to day flying moths. It can be distinguished from other similar orchids by the three pronounced lobes of the lower petals.
This rare plant tends to flower earlier than most of the other orchids. Like the Bee Orchid, this plant relies on deception to get pollinated. Rather than providing nectar to attract pollinators it dupes male digger wasps into trying to mate with it in a process known as pseudocopulation. This year has seen the biggest population we have ever seen at the Friary.
Greater Butterfly Orchid
Easily identified by its tall spikes of white flowers with long wing-like sepals. The sweet vanilla scent is strongest at night and it is mainly pollinated by night flying moths. We only ever get a couple of examples of this plant growing at the Friary.