Saturday, 13 July 2013

Rags to Riches

Our very hot walk this morning was certainly well worth it.  Managing to keep off the main footpaths as much as possible we avoided the worst of the weekend cyclists and also managed to find some shade under the trees.  Walking around Straw's Bridge lakes, we found several large stands of Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).  Tall and bright yellow, these are very common in the UK and is a very useful plant for insects of all types, particularly bees and hoverflies.  In all about 77 different species of insect rely on the Ragwort as their home and primary source of food.  Many caterpillars find it useful as the plant contains many alkaloids which are absorbed into the body of the caterpillar, thus making them unpalatable to other creatures.
Nestling among the Ragworts was a single Feverfew plant (Tanacetum parthenium).  Of the same family as Ragwort, it is a useful plant in traditional medicine, being used as an anti-inflammatory, a 'fever reducer' (hence the name) and general cure-all for headaches, gastric problems and many others.  No scientific evidence has yet to support these claims however!
From the 'rags', we walked on the 'riches' of Pewit Carr.  The thousands of orchids in this damp meadow are still hanging on bravely, but they are slowly being pushed out by the Meadowsweet, Hogweed, Sedges and Rushes.  The view along the pathway which crosses this  area is wonderful, particularly on a hot, sunny morning.
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