05 February 2010

Winter flowers in Nicholaston Woods

Highlights during a dog-walk through the woods this morning were a couple of Glamorgan's rarer flowering plants, namely Butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus) and Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus). The image below is the view looking west from near Crawley Bluff with Oxwich saltmarsh to the left:

Although Butcher's-broom grows elsewhere in Wales, the south Gower population is considered to be the only native population. The flowers are only a few mm across, but the fruit are very conspicuous. The plant belongs to the Liliaceae and has no true leaves, the flowers being produced on leaf-like structures called cladodes. The species is dioecious with the female flowers and ripe fruit being pictured below:

Crawley Bluff (in Nicholaston Woods) is now the only remaining site in West Glamorgan where Stinking Hellebore grows, although its status as a native is questionable!

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