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Trinia glauca (Honewort) at Hellenge Hill and Sand Point

This fascinating plant is only found in the UK on south-facing dry limestone slopes in South Devon (Where David Fenwick has photographed it) and the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills.
I must have overlooked it many times in the days before I got seriously interested in wild flowers.


It's one of those little insignificant plants that is well worth having a closer look on a limestone, unimproved hillside such as Hellenge Hill (above Bleadon) here.

Trinia is mentioned as a local (and valued) rarity in books such as The Sea-Board of Mendip written in 1902 by Francis A Knight. It is clear from what he says that the area I now live in in Weston-super-Mare would once have been its habitat. (It was first mentioned as growing in the area by the then Dean of Wells, William Turner, in 1562.)

The plant is a member of the Carrot Family or Apiaceae (previously Umbelliferae); not one frankly that is one of my favourites but this is special.

For one thing it is dioecious (plants are all male or all female) and monocarpic (it dies after flowering once). (At least T G Tutin in Umbellifers of the British Isles says it is "usually dioecious" and "probably always monocarpic"). The point about being monocarpic is that it is not an annual - it can be biennial or perennial - but still only flowers once like an annual.

Certainly all the plants I found were single sex.


Here some male plants are reasonably obvious, but although heights up to 20 cm are attributed to the plant, none were exceeding 5 cm in a cold early May at Hellenge.


Habitat at Sand Point.

The female plant is even more elusive - and possibly less common (I did not carry out a rigorous survey). Viewed close-up the difference is obvious - 2 stigmas on females and 5 stamens on males.

Showing parts of the flower in different species, Trinia glauca
Male flowers
Showing parts of the flower in different species, Trinia glauca
Female flowers
Trinia glauca
Leaf shape.

Looking back down to Bleadon from Hellenge Hill.

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J R Crellin 2004