The Spetchells- Prudhoe

Northern marsh Orchid

Orchids are just coming in to flower on the Chalk, Northern Marsh (Dactylorhiza purpurella)  such an intense purple colour that it attracts attention.

The Spetchells is the only area of Chalk (Calcium carbonate) in Northumberland. It is an artificial mound of waste product created by an ICI factory sited here during the World War two. The factory made fertilizer for the ‘Dig for victory’ campaign but closed in 1967. The chalk mound survived in spite of attempts at removal. It is noted for its population of Dingy Skipper Butterflies.

Trees have grown up, such as Ash, Swedish Whitebeam, and  False Acacia. Gorse is widespread and Prostate Cotoneaster is invasive. This grass False-brome – (Brachypodium sylvaticum) is also invasive, smothering the Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).

False-brome - (Brachypodium sylvaticum)

The riverside path detained us with its many wildflowers; Dames Violet (Hesperis matronalis) below. We noted Hedge mustard(Sisymbrium officinale), Field Buttercup (Raunculus acris), Broad leaved Dock, Hogweed, Germander Speedwell, Sweet Cecily Crosswort, Himalayan Balsam, Mallow.

Matronalis Hesperidis

Wood Stitchwort (Stellaria nemorum) looked delightful among the Speedwell.

Wood stitchwort

This plant was a puzzle. I think it is Tower Cress?

Tower Cress

Hedge Bedstraw (Galium album) not yet in flower with Spreading Hedge Parsley (Torilis arvensis).

brnet saxifrage

This  Pansy is Viola Tricolor making a wonderful picture.

Viola tricolor

So many striking beautiful plants like this Sweet mignonette (Reseda  lutea) were admired. Weld (Reseda luteola) was growing nearby for comparison.

Sweet Mignonette (Reseda lutea

All these eye-catching  plants on the way to the Chalk hill. This view  below is from a walk Leaflet, the white chalky substrate is evident.

spetchells_40516f32

So many unusual  plants were growing in the chalky soil, it was bewildering. Another Orchid growing amid the Birdsfoot trefoil.

Common centaury (Centaurium erythraea)

Square stemmed St johns wort (Hypericum tetrapterum) not yet in flower.

Square stemmed St johns wort (Hypericum tetrapterum)

Perennial Rocket(Diplotaxis tenuifolia) was in flower and abundant. It had a peppery taste.

Perennial Rocket(Diplotaxis tenuifolia)

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) below was recognizable by its leaf form as was Pignut.

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

This site is so interesting that it requires further visits.  It hosts much insect life but those we saw will be included in the next blog.

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