Look for boom­rape among broad beans

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Business Kent Update -

When I find some spare time, I try to visit other parts of Kent par­tic­u­larly to look for rare or de­clin­ing plants. One area I vis­ited re­cently was the Kent Downs to the west of Sn­od­land, near Maid­stone, to look for a rare plant called bean broom­rape. This is par­a­sitic and sprouts up in broad bean crops in re­cent years. Mil­lions of plants ap­peared in the crop about four years ago and I have been keep­ing an eye out to see if it has reap­peared. So last week with two keen botany friends we spot­ted a broad bean field while driv­ing in the rough 10-mile square area broom­rape had been seen in pre­vi­ous years. We found a pub­lic foot­path across the field and there were good quan­ti­ties of the bean broom­rape it­self. This species is very large (up to 40cm tall) and with big showy light pur­ple flow­ers with the oc­ca­sional cream coloured in­di­vid­ual as well. Broom­rapes tap into a plant host. They do not have any chloro­phyll and so steal it from an­other plant and its wa­ter to sur­vive. Other species of broom­rapes in­clude bed­straw, ivy, knap­weed and ox­tongue broom­rape. Keep an eye out in the broad bean crops in east Kent to see if it ap­pears and let me know.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Part­ner­ship, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk

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