Ashridge supports a number of rare flowers, mainly on the chalk downland like the fleawort and early gentian. However there is one rarity which hides away in the deep shade of the beech woods – the violet helleborine. Harding’s Rookery is home to this elusive orchid which tolerates deep shade, but needs protection here from the large resident deer herd.
Every year the Trust, along with the help of volunteers builds brushwood pyramids to conserve the plants. The flower is pollinated by wasps and the plant is dependant upon a certain soil fungus being present to enable it’s seeds to germinate – it cannot be successfully moved or translocated.
It gets it’s name from the purple markings on the leaves and stems.