Saturday, 3 July 2010

Pewit Carr

The small, local nature reserve known as Pewit Carr, is a little gem within the larger environs of Shipley Park. The wet meadows are home to many wonderful plant species, not least of which are the Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) which proliferate here.
Right now, the Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) plants are beginning to come into flower and the insects all love them. The flower heads are made up of many smaller flowers, followed by numerous seeds which are a great favourite with Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis).
One of the most numerous plants around the area and one of the most striking, is the Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium). Of the same family as the Cow Parsley, Fennel, Carrot, etc, Hogweed is a robust plant. The stem and young shoots - raw or cooked are used as a green vegetable, when harvested just as they are sprouting from the ground they are somewhat like asparagus in flavour. Much care must be taken though, as an incorrect identification, could lead to you eating the highly poisonous Hemlock - not a good idea!
Related to the Creeping Thistle mentioned above, are the Black Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) plants which are also in bloom at the moment. Black Knapweed is an extremely important plant for other wildlife including Gatekeeper butterfly, Goldfinch, Honey bee, Large skipper, Lime-speck Pug moth, Meadow Brown, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Copper and Small Skipper, most of which can be found around Pewit Carr.
Lastly today is a delicate, white-flowered plant with a sweet smell. The Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) has masses of frothy white flowers and masses of alternate names including Queen of the Meadow, Pride of the Meadow, Meadow-Wort, Meadow Queen, Lady of the Meadow, Dollof, and Bridewort. The flowers, if picked, dried and brewed as a tea, is beneficial to influenza sufferers as they contain - among other things - salicylic acid, the basis of Aspirin.
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