25 April 2012

A snake in the grass

This month, the meadows begin to 'move' as days lengthen, the soil warms up and April showers and downpours provide welcome moisture. However, growth is slow, the 'spring flush' of grass is yet to take off. Early and low flowering species like barren strawberry, bugle and germander speedwell are still clearly visible and cowslips are often the tallest flowers in the meadows.
This is an ideal time to see Adder's tongue - Ophioglossum vulgatum. This curious low-growing fern  occurs in old, undisturbed grasslands - its simple, lime-green leaves often forming quite large colonies of no more than a few centimetres high. The sporangia from which spores are released arise from the centre of the leaf  like a snake's tongue - hence the name Adder's tongue.

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