Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Blues

I have often mentioned the plethora of yellow flowers which seem to dominate the countryside in these parts, particularly with the amazing numbers of buttercups filling the meadows at this time of year. One colour is less frequently seen however, the Blues.  Right now, we have a few flowers showing through which seek to redress the balance and among the most common are those belonging to the Vetch family. Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) is very common and makes quite a good show of itself.
Sometimes called Bird Vetch or even Cow Vetch, it can be found gracing the hedgerows and field boundaries all over Britain, where its spikes of blue, pea flowers are held above a rather straggling pile of leaves and tendrils. The plant as a whole can often smother and strangle other plants through which it grows.
As with so many of the Pea family of plants, Tufted Vetch is a useful fodder crop and the seeds (and leaves too), are a favourite of caged birds - Budgies love them!
Growing around the lake at Straw's Bridge the other day, was a pale blue flower which was unfamiliar to me. Closer inspection and a quick consultation of the books, revealed it to be a Cultivated Flax (Linum usitatissimum).
Also known as Linseed, it is a non-native variety and has been grown by man for thousands of years.  Flax was first used for its fibres which were gathered, twisted and woven to make textiles, some 30,000 years ago.  Then it was domesticated and grown around the 'Fertile Crescent' of the Middle East at least 7,000 years ago.  These days, it is grown more for its seeds and the oil which they provide.  The seeds are also edible when sprouted and are often to be found in commercially bought packets of bird seed, which is probably how this plant found itself growing on the banks of Swan Lake.
However it got here, it is quite beautiful.
Post a Comment