Monday, 14 July 2014

Local Flora

The weather is remaining warm and sunny in these parts so far, without the promised heavy showers so the ground is becoming very dry and hard as a rock.  The local wild flowers are looking fantastic still despite the dry conditions, so here are a few from our recent walks, starting with a beautiful flower from our walk this morning.  Perforate St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a common sight around here.
Its name 'perforate' refers to the minute, translucent dots on the leaves which are just visible to the naked eye if you hold them up to the light.  These dots give the impression of tiny perforations although they are not actually 'holes' in the leaves.  It is the bright, yellow flowers however, which attract the attention of the passer-by, as well as a myriad of insect life.
Another yellow flower in full bloom right now, is the Ladies Bedstraw (Galium verum).  A remarkably soft plant to the touch with feathery foliage and tiny flowers forming frothy whorls of flowers, it too is common in the UK.  The name 'Bedstraw' comes from the fact that it was once gathered to stuff mattresses not simply for its softness, but also for its flea-killing properties - the flowers smells of Coumarin, something any self-respecting flea will jump a mile to avoid.  This patch of Ladies Bedstraw was found growing beside a fence near Straw's Bridge a few days ago.
Changing colour, but not location, we found some tall spikes of a pinkish-purple flower growing around another lake of the Straw's Bridge complex of waterways.  This plant turned out to be Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris).  I have been familiar with the more common Hedge Woundwort which grows in profusion around these parts, but this 'Marsh' variety is a much bigger and more stately plant.  The labiate flowers are a great favourite with bumble bees.
One of the more common flowers to be opening its blooms at this time of year, is the Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), sometimes called Fireweed because of its ability to pop up and colonise areas which have recently been cleared by fire.  It is this ability which enables it to grow in the most unlikely of places.  Here, it is sprouting out of the cracks in the tarmac of the old American Adventure car parks.
Despite it being one of our most common wild flowers, it has to be one of the most attractive too.
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