Taking a closer look at the sand dune grassland habitat. The dunes in June at Oxwich Bay on Gower in South Wales were splendid with flowers. The dune system shows a transition from loose sand and marram grass at its seaward edge, through stabilised dunes with established grasses and wild flowers, gradually becoming more permanent and vegetated as bracken takes over the slopes, and trees establish in hollows, until the whole is enveloped in woodland or incorporated into marshes.
Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) was the first flower I noticed on my visit. The petals are quite a dark pink but the “bloody” in the name refers to the colour of the sepals that remain and form a long pointed beak around the developing seeds. It is a flower that is common on Gower but I had not seen it so abundant and widespread before. It is a clump-forming perennial said to be found in calcareous grassland and limestone pavements. The underlying geology in the area is limestone, so that may account for the distribution of this plant, although I thought that the sand on Gower beaches was almost exclusively derived from melting ice sheets.