Basil-thyme (Clinopodium acinos) is not a plant that I've seen very often and certainly not locally. I had known of its existence on Banstead Downs for a while now but had never got around to paying it a visit - until today. A largish patch was out in flower and appears to be the only population present. It isn't common anywhere in north Surrey as far as I'm aware.

It's a smart flower, not too showy but the white horse-shoe marking making it distinctive. You really need to be on chalk to find it, the UK distribution map suggesting that the North and South Downs, plus the run of chalk up from Dorset to Norfolk being prime habitat - but make no mistake, this is not a common species and it is local across a lot of its range.

I couldn't resist posting a picture of this Fox-and-cubs (or Orange Hawkweed if you prefer), one of several hundred that I saw in flower in a meadow close to the River Mole at Leatherhead. They always brighten up any stroll.


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