Stinking parasites

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 20 August 2010 17:17

There is so much Common Dodder at Levin this year that in some places it forms a carpet! As I was bending down to take these photos I was suddenly hit by the smell. Somewhere between crystallised urine and pear drops, the smell is over-bearing and I was glad to get away from it. Yuk!

I saw 14 Autumn Lady's-tresses just opening up including three in one of my quadrats. This was the most developed of them all, another couple of weeks I think until they will be at there best. That's all my chalk-grassland quadrats finished for the year, just the heathland and mire sites left now!
Finally, I saw this labitate on the edge of the arable field at the bottom of Levin and I could not figure it out. The flowers look just like figwort flowers but it's definitely a labiate. The plant really stinks, quite a familiar but also alien smell. Then it struck me, I think it's the hybrid between Black Horehound and Wood Sage. I can't be sure but if you 'morph' together the flowers of these two species in your imagination, this is probably what it would like, the first has a large top lip the second a large bottom lip. The colour is fairly intermediate too and Neil at work came to the same conclusion. Has anyone else ever seen this or could suggest an alternative answer?

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