Draycote Meadow, Draycote
"The abundance of green winged orchids is unique in the county"
- Steve Trotter, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust
Two species rich hay meadows can be found here: green-winged orchids can number over 20,000 flower spikes in some years, producing a breathtaking display, while cowslip, pepper saxifrage and rare spiny restharrow are also to be found. The unusual grassland ferns, adder’s-tongue and moonwort grow here along with more familiar flowers like yellow rattle, meadow vetchling and knapweed. All this diversity supports a wide range of insect life, attracting around twenty species of butterfly.
Header image (above) © Steven Cheshire.
How to get there
4 miles south west of Rugby, just north of Draycote village. The reserve is off the B4453 near to the A45 London Road interchange.
Species to spot
Best time to see: May
The jester-like motley of its green and purple flowers gives this orchid its scientific name: morio, meaning 'fool'. It can sometimes be confused with the early-purple orchid but does not have spots on its leaves.
Best time to see: April - May
Easy to spot with its yellow cup-shaped flowers nodding at the end of tall stems. The name cowslip allegedly derives from ‘cowslup' - an old term for cowpat - since where the cow 'slupped' this flower was often found.
Best time to see: April - Aug.
A favourite of farmers and cattle alike: its roots fix nitrogen from the air making the soil more fertile and its protein-rich seeds are a good source of food when mixed in hay. Image © Plantlife/Andrew Gagg.
Marbled white butterfly
Best time to see: June - Aug.
A distinctive medium-sized white butterfly, with black-chequered markings, often be found feeding on purple flowers such as common knapweed. The caterpillars feed on grasses. Image © Adam Hincks/CC BY_SA