Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria)

Hazel coppice can be one of the best habitats to find spring flowers and by April the woodland floor will be covered in yellow, white and blue from an array of species. However, if you go to a coppice now in February or possibly March you may be rewarded by the discovery of this rare and unique flower, Toothwort.

Toothwort is a parasitic plant that grows on the roots of trees and has a particular affinity to the Hazel. Because it is parasitic it does not need chlorophyll and so it is a creamy white colour tinged with purple. Those of you familiar with the Broomrape family will see a resemblance as they are also parasitic but they are not related.

This is a tiny flower, not easy to find and may be often overlooked but I am only aware of one site for it in Dorset and that is in the wooded slopes to the west of the DWT reserve at Stonehill Down.

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