If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

24 May, 2010

Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa)

In my notes on the Adonis Blue butterfly I suggested you go in search of Horseshoe Vetch, the butterfly's food plant. It occurs to me now that you may not be familiar with it so here is a photo to show you what you are looking for!

Being a vetch it is, therefore, a member of the pea family and as such has the classic pea shaped flower head. However, the pea flowers are arranged in a horseshoe shape around the head of the stalk; there does not seem to be a specific number of flowers per 'horseshoe'.

Flowering from May to July it can be found on short, calcareous, turf on cliffs and downs, and is extremely common near the Dorset coast, hence the abundance of Adonis Blue butterflies.