Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Roman snails and white helleborines

It was wet and muggy this morning, the perfect morning for a walk around Grangelands to see if the Roman snails were about. They're a real favourite of ours and another one of Grangelands special creatures.

They're huge snails, much bigger than a garden snail. They have a cream coloured shell, that often has brown bands on it and very pale, chalk coloured bodies.

On a rainy, damp day (like today) they are easy to find and you see them climbing up and down the trees as well as out in the grass.
Coming down a tree
They are also called edible snails and are the snails that are eaten as escargot, although they're protected in this country so can't be collected (or eaten!) They were probably introduced by the Romans as a source of food (hence the name) and are quite rare in this country, though there are plenty in this part of the Chilterns. They can live to about 10 years old in the wild.

While I was walking around, I hopped over a stile to see if the white helleborines were showing any leaves yet. They grow on a steep, bare bank, in the deep shade of the beech trees. I'd had a look a week ago and thought there might have been one just starting to grow. It looks like they were hanging on for a bit rain and lots had popped up in the last few days. It won't be long now until they start to flower.
White helleborine soon to flower
Walking around the grassland, the common spotted orchids were growing well and lots more spotty leaves had popped up.
Common spotted orchid leaves
I also found another orchid rosette, but I'm not sure what this one will be. I'll have to keep an eye on it and see what it turns out to be.

The new hart's tongue fern fronds have unfurled, revealing their shiny new fronds. They're unusual ferns as they have simple, undivided fronds that are said to resemble the tongue of a deer (hence the name). They always remind me of an octopus, with their tentacles that are curled over at the ends.
There seem to be a lot of violets around this year. Such pretty little spring flowers and here they were next to a lovely patch of liverwort called wall scalewort.

There were plenty of other snails and slugs around, as well as all the Roman snails. They just love this weather!

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