Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Peas and Goats

A cooler walk this morning around the site of the old West Hallam Colliery. The footpaths are numerous around this part of the park and you could lose yourself for hours. Many more flowers are beginning to show their true colours after the last few days of hot weather, not least of which are these members of the pea family, the Birds-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).
Common throughout Europe, this is a valuable fodder plant for all grazing animals. It is a valuable plant also, for several moth and butterfly species as their caterpillars feed on the leaves. However, they contain a substance called cyanogenic glycoside and are therefore poisonous to humans - but no less beautiful for that.
As we turned for home, we walked along the edge of a meadow, next to a small stream, along which was growing a large quantity of Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale).
Related to Borage - which you might know if you have ever had their blue flowers floating in your 'G & T' or 'Pimms', this is versatile plant, useful as a natural fertiliser and for having several medicinal uses. They were once used as a treatment for broken bones and as such, came to get the common name of 'Knitbone'.
On to the Goats that I mentioned in today's title. Not the cloven-hoofed bovid mammals known to us all, but a small, yellow flower called Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis).
A member of the family which includes Dandelions, you can see the similarity in the flower. These flowers are sometimes called 'Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon' because the flowers often close around that time, or Meadow Salsify as it is related to the Salsify which you might know from your kitchen garden.
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