Sunday, 21 June 2009

Peas!

at this time of year, the flowers are blooming all over and it is amazing how many of them are members of the same family - the Peas! The first one may come as a bit of a surprise. Lucerne (Medicago sativa) is a fairly common member of the family. It may be better known as Alfalfa.

Cultivated all over the world as a fodder crop for livestock as well as a food stuff for humans. The USA in particular, grows a huge amount of this plant for fodder for cattle. In Britain however, it has become an introduced wild flower, loved by many species of insects, especially moths and butterflies who love the abundant flowers.

Next on the list today is the Tall Melilot (Melilotus altissima).

Again, this plant is a great favourite of the butterflies and moths and like all members of the Pea family has nodules on it's roots which contain a bacteria which helps to 'fix' nitrogen into the soil. As a result it is a brilliant soil improver. But, poisonous to some mammals and therefore not welcome in among the hay!

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