Sunday, 5 July 2009

Melange

A mixture of flowers today. Firstly a familiar flower which is coming into bloom everywhere at the moment. Tall and stately, hairy stemmed and pink flowered, the Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) is quite a showman.

The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, bees and hoverflies.
Next, another countryside favourite and again showman of the hedgerows well-known to us all. The Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).

The Foxglove has been used to treat heart conditions for hundreds of years, first described in this country for this purpose in 1785. The Digitalin found and extracted from the leaves of this plant is used to control the heart rate particularly in cases of irregular heart beat. Use if this drug has to be very carefully monitored as too much of it causes many problems including vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia. A beautiful flower nonetheless.
Lastly, a less familiar plant of the hedgerow the Black Bryony (Tamus communis).

Large, glossy, heart-shaped leaves entwine the other hedgerow plants as it climbs over everything. Black Bryony is a member of the Yam family and is more often noticed in the autumn when in fruit as the large red berries are far more conspicuous than the tiny, greenish flowers.

Like the vegetable Yams, it grows from an underground tuber. Unlike Yams however, the tubers are, like the rest of the plant, poisonous.
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