Monday, 17 December 2012

Wall Plants

With the sun again shining brightly I set off for a brisk walk, confining myself to the village. There are dozens of old walls hereabouts, with at least one being a Grade 2 Listed Building, and I was struck by the number of plants finding a congenial home there. One of the commonest is Reflexed Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre), sometimes accompanied by its relative, Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre). The former (top left) is an introduction from the southern part of Europe; the latter (second picture) is a native plant. If you have ever wondered how Biting Stonecrop gets its name, try nibbling one of its leaves, It has a distinct peppery taste, hence the specific name 'acre' (cf acrid - burning). Both these plants will have starry yellow flowers in the summer.

Aubretia - always called this despite its 'proper' name of Aubrieta - is common all around the village and several plants bore a few flowers, as in the example below, photographed today beside the main road. Common it may be but a tumbling purple or blue waterfall of this plant is a glorious sight - and is much appreciated by bees and butterflies. It is a native of south-east Europe but is more or less naturalised in places.

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