Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Marshy

With all the recent rain, it's not surprising that the ground is saturated and the ditches around Shipley Park are all running with water.  The open ground is a bit 'squelchy' too, but not everything is fed up with it.  The Marsh Thistles (Cirsium palustre), growing in one of the path-side ditches are looking very happy indeed.  these were playing host to several 5-Spot Burnet Moths.
Marsh Thistles are rather formidable to look at, covered as they are with thousands of spines, but the clusters of purple flowers which top the tall stems make them among the most colourful of our wild flowers at this time.  and the insects love them too.
Much smaller, but showing flowers of a similar colour, are those of the Seafheal (Prunella Vulgaris).  Growing only a few inches high, they are rather common and often cause gardeners some trouble when they take over your lawn, but the 17th century herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper has it as a very useful herb.  Also known as All-heal, it was used as general cure-all and as a means of hastening the healing of wounds, both inward and outward.  Mixed into a tincture and applied to the temples, it was also said to cure headache.  He also said that Selffheal "cleanses and heals all ulcers, in the mouth, and throat, and those also in the secret parts!"  Very useful!
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