Yesterday I was walking across a site which I’ve seen through the whole year – from the early arrival of colt’s foot flowers on the bare earth, through the summer proliferation of vetches, orchids and centaury,to the late-summer specialists such as fleabane and sneezewort. Now, the site is most definitely diminished as the vegetation browns and droops and sinks.
One of the few species still in flower is bristly oxtongue – Picris echioides. These particularly caught my eye as the dandelion-like yellow flowers were blooming within an apparently extinguished plant – the leaves and seed-heads had otherwise crisped and curled with an attractive silvery hue, but each plant was studded still with two or three flowers which were as bright and alive as mid-summer.
I don’t know whether this last-ditch attempt to reproduce off a dying plant is a common characteristic of this species, or whether the conditions this year have prompted it, but I would be interested to know if others have observed this?