Monday, 21 April 2014

Cardamine

Two inter-related species today, from our recent walks around Shipley Park.  Firstly, a small, beautiful Butterfly which is to be found flitting about the sides of the footpaths right now.  The Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) is a familiar species and one which is quite easy to identify - at least, the males are easy as they live up to their name.
This individual was feeding on a Dandelion flower and seemed oblivious to me pointing my camera at me. The female Orange Tip strangely, has no orange tips to the wings and is easily mistaken for a small white or green-veined white butterfly.  But, there is no mistaking the males.
The second part of the scientific name of the Orange Tip (cardamines) is a reference to one of the butterfly's main food plants, the Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis), which is also now making an appearance among the grasses.
This attractive plant is a member of the cabbage family or Brassicaceae and the flowers can vary quite lot from almost white to a deeper purple/pink.  This particular plant had unusually dark pink flowers for these parts, with paler pinks being most common.
The second part of the scientific name of the Cuckoo Flower (also sometime called Lady's Smock) pratensis, means 'meadow' which describes its growing habits perfectly.
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