Thesium humifusum   Bastard-toadflax R DD N

Thesium humifusum whole Thesium humifusum close Thesium humifusum flower

The attraction of Devil's Dyke at this time of year was the Lizard Orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) but along with many other naturalists, we looked for butterflies and other flowers on the way to the known site. In the grass, low down I spotted this small white flower which may be common to the botanists of southern England but not necessarily to those of us from the north. I had only seen it once before but recognised it immediately - a welcome new flower for the photo collection and a rarity at that.

The common name comes from the fact that this plant has leaves very similar to many plants in the Linaria (Toadflax) genus although the flowers are completely different. It is a plant of basic soils being most often found on chalk or limestone and is partially parasitic on many herbs.

It is found mostly in a triangle of southern English counties, the centre of the base of which is Southampton. There is some in east Anglia but otherwise there are only a few old records for T. humifusum growing farther north. It is therefore absent from Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well as most of northern and central England and Cornwall.

Devil's Dyke, near Newmarket, Cambridgeshire 15th June 2008

Added on 1st January 2009, updated 14th February 2012

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