Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Exmoor's variety, part 2: Plantlife

Because Exmoor has such a range of terrains (more in a later blog!) it has a big range of plantlife too. I'm going to concentrate here on some of my favourites, and haven't included trees because I'm also going to focus on them another time.
Daffodils in Stowey Wood near Wheddon Cross
Early in the year the snowdrops in Snowdrop Valley - where else? - show that the land is starting to wake up after winter. Slightly later signs of spring are daffodils, primroses, alexanders, wild garlic, bluebells. 
Gorse, with its sunny flowers and coconutty scent, can be in bloom at any time of year ('whenever kissing's in season' as the old saying goes) but is often at its best in late spring. Exmoor ponies love to nibble the flowers and stems.
Heather on Dunkery Hill
Summer brings out the bell heather and ling on the high moors, which are home to luscious whortleberries as well; also known as bilberries, if you're a northerner like me. And, following on from the foxgloves, rosebay willowherb is everywhere. On riverbanks I love to see meadowsweet, also – an invasive import, but so pretty – monbretia.
Gorse in bloom by the Porlock toll road
By the coast you'll see, at various times of the year, sea purslane, wild fennel, teasels, evening primroses, mallows...
And I'll just briefly mention marsh plants, grasses and sedges, ferns, lichens – the latter a telltale sign of Exmoor's unpolluted air – and fungi including brightly coloured waxcaps.

All in all, Exmoor is a botanist's paradise!

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