A walk through time ….

Large-flowered Hemp-nettle, Chorlton Ees

A few (very few) highlights of botanising along the banks of the River Mersey in mid-July as it cuts through the former flood meadows, sewage farms, gravel pits and woodland fringe.

Quite surprising to see the unmistakeable Large-flowered Hemp-nettle growing amongst the Rosebay Willowherb close to the Meadow Pond on Chorlton Ees. More usually seen in arable farmland the Hemp-nettle represents a link back to the Ees former use as a flood meadow. Sadly with the spreading of nightsoil during the late 19th and early 20th Century the diversity has been largely lost.

Common Hemp-nettle, again close by on Chorlton Ees – another survivor ?

Broad-leaved Helleborine, Kenworthy Woods. One of the few species to really benefit from the recent cool, damp conditions.

In common with many other Orchids it can be quite variable with the size varying from a few inches to over 12 inches in height. Likewise the colour of the flowers can be anything from pale green, white to deep red. Even the leaves vary with the lower leaves being relatively broad and rounded whilst the upper leaves are far more narrow. Fortunately the deep red flower “cup” remains across all the varying forms and is the key feature that distinguishes it from the other Helleborines.

A more unusual red form of the Broad-leaved Helleborine

Marsh Valerian, Barlow Tip

I’m sure I must have seen plenty of Marsh Valerian elsewhere but just can’t recall seeing it up on the former Barlow Tip. Unlike the Red Valerian typically seen growing out of rock faces and stone walls this one is part of our native flora.


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