Low growing vetch in open grassland on the side of a limestone hillside.
No interactions present.
Landgirl, please comment why you think it's not milk-vetch.
It's not a milkwort, due to the pea-type flowers. Both milkwort types grow in the area (Common and Chalk), and I'm familiar with them. I accept it might not be the milk-vetch, though. I'll get more detail tomorrow.
OK, photos are always more difficult than seeing the whole plant in the field, but my thinking was that the flowers look to have the two large coloured sepals of Milkwort, with the petals not visible yet. They don't look like pea flowers to me. Astragalus danicus has quite a dense head of pea flowers sitting in a cup of hairy sepals, and vetch-type leaves - I can't see any evidence of these. It does sometimes look a bit thin and weak, you could still be right!
Cheers, landgirl. The battery on my camera ran out just as I took this photo, or I would have taken shots of the foliage too. I'll post more tomorrow when it's recharged. I only spotted the flower when I was taking pictures of the fragrant orchid. Hope I didn't squish it.
I've confirmed this a purple milk-vetch with the local botanist. She was aware of the plant. I knew the plant was in the area, but I hadn't realised how special it is! I believe it has been notified to the county recorders.
Did you get any more pics?
Hi landgirl, no I couldn't get any today. This specimen is at the far end of the common and the weather got very wet on my way to it and I gave up (for today) I'm afraid. I was walking with the local ranger/botanist, who showed me the other examples I photographed today. She was aware of the particular plant I (think) I saw. I will get back to it. I know the plant is scarce nationally, but on Cleeve Common it's spreading probably due to the grazing program. This specimen is off the common, but the area is grazed by the same herd of cattle from time to time.
I got back to this spot yesterday. I took ages to find the plant, because wherever I trod was close to a very nice plant (Fragrant and common spotted orchids, Birds foot trefoil, horseshoe vetch, self-heal, and both types of milkwort all in a two square metre patch). I have to admit I now agree this plant is a milkwort. Darn. I'll now spent ages looking for the vetch on this hill, one because I know it's there, and two because it is a stunning hill. Fragrant orchids by the thousand in nearby fields.
Thanks for the help.
Sounds like a wonderful site, wish it was closer to me!
Lat/Lng: 51.9186, -2.0174
OS grid ref: SO988244