Collage of wildflowers and butterflies


Articles about local plant life, particularly the flora found on the now relatively rare unimproved limestone grassland of the Common.

We counted over 120 spikes of Autumn Ladies Tresses on Minchinhampton Common last week, spread over three different locations (of which one was a location of which we had previously been aware). It is looking like a reasonably good year and this seems to be the peak of abundance.


Our first sighting of Autumn Ladies Tresses this year! We found a single specimen on Minchinhampton Common at a north-side location that generally produces a good crop. (The photo above right is one of last-year's crop - this morning's photograph proved to be blurred.)

In contrast, Broad-leaved Helleborines can still be found on Rodborough Common on grass verges close to Rodborough Fort, though now starting to go over. (We located several a couple of weeks ago, and this morning found that three had somehow managed to escape the local council's mania for road verge trimming.

Bee Ochids

During a zig-zag walk around Minchinhampton Common yesterday my wife, Mary, and I counted about 150 bee orchids in various patches, including some containing ~30 plants within a 10 meter diameter circle. The photograph shows some of the orchids from a patch along side the east side of the Burleigh road. This morning we came across another patch of ~30. Not our find, just curiosity about a photographer bending over in the grass just the other side of the road (Reservoir side) from Tom Long's post. He told us about a Wasp Orchid on the Bulwarks - so off to find that as soon as the rain stops! Thanks whoever you are. Watch this space. (Wasp Orchids are a variety of Bee Orchids but with a more elongated flower coming to a distinct point. We had one in our garden a few years ago.)

For such a spectacular plant, they can be surprisingly difficult to see until you almost trip over them, and of course they seem to be most abundant away from routes commonly used by walkers, hence our decision to keep to the longer grass yesterday. (Mary is much better than me at spotting the plants.) The patch in the photograph is about 10 meters away from where we normally cross the road in our regular circuit of the Common - but we have probably never crossed at that exactly that point in our previous two decades of doing this walk. We assume that there are still a good many patches that we have not yet managed to find. We had visions of Minchinhampton Wild-Walkers doing a systematic survey by slowly walking the entire Common in line-abreast and annoying the hell out of the golfers. (Perhaps not such a good idea after all.)

Unfortunately, we do not have any systematic information from our previous year's attempts to find Bee Orchids so we do really know if it is a good year, or just that we have got better at looking. 

Bee Orchid Spike
Bee Orchid

This morning's walk over to Rodborough Common produced many sightings of Bee Orchids including about ten on Rodborough itself, but also twenty just at the end of Windmill Road, at the north end of the area used as a rugby pitch in the winter season. We regularly look out for Bee orchids in this location and usually find them in good numbers. A number of other locations where we usually expect to see examples have been disappointing this year, however. We have been compensated by finding spikes in other unexpected locations.


Showing the distribution of a type of flora.