The recent sunshine and showers have brought out even more wildflowers along the boardwalk and around the reserve! Recently we’ve been seeing: Welsh Poppies, Water Forget-Me-Not, Pignut, Germander Speedwell, Greater Stitchwort, Red Campion, Goldilocks Buttercup, Bluebells, and Sanicle
Welsh Poppy – Meconopsis cambrica
Often used as a symbol of hope, the flowers of Welsh Poppy provide pollen for bees whilst beetles feed in the seed capsules, some beetle species overwinter in the empty seed capsules. Average seed numbers per plant can range from 10,000 to 60,000. The Welsh Poppy is well adapted to growing in cracks and crevices, enabling it to grow in urban environments such as between paving slabs and cracks in walls. The Welsh political party Plaid Cymru use a stylised image of the Welsh Poppy for their symbol.
Water Forget-me-not – Myosotis Scorpioid
Water Forget-me-not was commonly known as scorpion-grass because the curled clusters of flowers resemble a scorpion’s tail. It is native to Europe and Asia but can be found in North America. The botanical name is derived from the Greek for a mouse’s ear but there seems to be a variety of origins for the common name. The common forget-me-not name is said to be a reference to its foul taste, appearing in English in the mid-1500s. In Germany, the origin of the name forget-me-not is thought to come from a knight carrying a bunch of the blue flowers, falling into the Danube River and throwing the bouquet at his lady love shouting “forget me not”. King Henry IV chose forget-me-not as his emblem and wore it along with his followers, after the Battle of Waterloo it was said forget-me-not sprang up from the blood soaked ground.
Pignut – Conopodium majus
Pignut grows in woods and fields and is an indicator of long established grasslands. The plant produces a tasty nutty tuber (an underground part of the stem) and can be dug up with a pen knife, peeled and eaten raw or roasted. These would have been available to early Scottish settlers as a food source. Livestock grazing on pignut (also known as lucy arnuts) were thought to be prone to live infestations. Badgers are very fond of eating pignuts which constitute up to 5% of their diet. However Pignuts are less common than they used to be, it is illegal to uproot wild plants without landowner’s permission.
Germander Speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys
Germander Speedwell is thought to bring good luck to travellers and speed them on their way, this may originate from the fact they form in clumps along hedgerows, grassy lanes and roadside verges. It was used in Scottish medicine in the early 17th century and is thought to heal wounds, purify blood and cure skin diseases. It was also believed to cure measles and small pox.
Greater Stitchwort – Stellaria holostea
Greater Stitchwort is thought to be a herbal remedy for stitches after exercise. There are many common names for Stitchwort, including Wedding Cakes, Daddy’s Shirt Buttons, Star of Bethlehem (due to their starry shaped flowers) and Snap Dragons (due to their brittle stems). The brittle stems are easy to snap which has also influenced the scientific name which comes from the Greek ‘holosteon’ meaning whole bone. When the seed capsules ripen in late spring they can be heard “popping”.
Red Campion – Silene dioica
Red Campion is one of the first to be harvested by wildflower seed suppliers. It is thought to symbolise gentleness. It can grow up to 1 metre and is often grazed on by Roe Deer.The first part of the scientific name comes from the Greek woodland god, Silene, who was the be a drunk, often covered in foam. This relates to the female Red Campion flower which produces foam to help catch pollen from visiting insects. It is also known as bachelor’s buttons and probably used to be worn in the button holes of bachelors.
Goldilocks Buttercup – Ranunculus auricomus
This is the only buttercup which is not acrid, meaning it doesn’t contain Protoanemonin, a poison which all other members of the buttercup family contain. Goldilocks Buttercup grow in woodland areas and start to flower earlier than any other UK buttercup in order for the flowers to be out before the trees leaves appear and shade them. The flowers often have a missing petal or two, in some cases no petals, this is not due to damage but is how the plant grows.
Bluebell – Hyacinthoides non-scripta
The term bluebell can refer to wild hyacinth or harebells. They are thought to symbolise everlasting love and are said to be unlucky when brought inside. A hybrid of Spanish and native bluebells is spreading across the UK, they look remarkably similar but do not have such a lovely scent. These hybrids are resulting in a loss of true native population – as many as 1 in 6 bluebells found in native woodland is Spanish rather than native. Native bluebells are Protected by the Wildlife and Conservation Act and cannot be picked. In the Middle Ages sap from bluebells was used to glue feathers on to arrows in the Tudor times they were used to stiffen ruffs in the Tudor times.
Sanicle – Sanicula europaea
Sanicle, also known as Self-Heal, is common in woods, thickets and damp places. It was used in Scottish medicine in 17th century. It was used internally and externally for infected wounds and ulcers, particularly in the Western Isles of Scotland. It was also used to heal internal bleeding and taken for swollen airways and coughs. The name originates from the Latin word ‘sano’ meaning I heal or cure.
Jess Dewhurst – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Assistant Ranger
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The recent sunshine and showers have brought out even more wildflowers along the boardwalk and around the reserve! Recently we’ve been seeing: Welsh Poppies, Water Forget-Me-Not, Pignut, Germander Speedwell, Greater …