Mole Valley’s Natural History

Flowering Plants

Box, Buxus sempervirens

It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is considered native in only a few places in the British Isles, though it has also been widely planted. The steep chalky slopes around Box Hill and Norbury Park support some of the best populations in this country. Box usually grows with yew and this combination, so relatively abundant in Mole Valley, is one of the reasons for classifying part of the area as an SAC. Box has small yellow-green flowers that open in early spring and these are followed by hard, curiously-shaped fruits.

Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis

This is one of our most beautiful native trees. It has cream flowers and attractive leaves that turn crimson in autumn. It is a relative of the rowan and whitebeam but it fruits are a dull brown, rather than the bright red of its more familiar cousins. It can be found in many old woods in Mole Valley on the weald clay. An alternative name is the Chequers Tree.

Green Hound’s-tongue Cynoglossum germanicum

It is a very rare plant in Britain but Mole Valley is one of its strongholds. It is now classified as critically endangered nationally. This plant is a biennial with a rosette of large glossy leaves and small inconspicuous flowers. It is usually found in woods on the chalk, where its numbers can vary considerably from one year to the next.

Wood anemone Anemone nemorosa

This lovely woodland flower is common throughout much of Mole Valley. It favours deciduous woodland but it can also be found on hedge banks and road verges. Its relatively large white flowers appear from March to May. Sheets of this in flower are an attractive sight, especially when they grow with primroses and bluebells.

Man Orchid Orchis anthropophora

Man Orchid

Some sixteen species of wild orchid can be found in Mole Valley; some in the clay woods and others on the chalk downs and woods. The Man Orchid is perhaps one of the most intriguing because the shape of its flower resembles that of a human body. It is considered nationally endangered, with Kent and Surrey now having the most important populations.