Whilst walking locally during lockdown, we’ve recognised that nothing can beat a leisurely stroll in the midst of British wild flowers on a warm sunny day. In taking our time, we’ve noticed so many wild flowers that we may previously have hurried straight past. This is the first of a series of blogs featuring the wildflowers we’ve spotted (in May at least) in Walsall!
Cardamine pratensis, commonly known as the cuckoo flower, is a delicate looking plant, so named as its appearance in Spring is said to coincide with that of the cuckoo itself. Found in wetter meadows and river banks, it’s a particularly pretty little plant.
Vicia sepium, the bush vetch, is a member of the pea family and highly attractive to bees and insects. With its ladder like leaves, its stems weave their way though the undergrowth to a height of up to a metre and the lovely purple flowers stand out in the green. It’s a nitrogen fixing plant, which means that it is able to draw nitrogen from the air through the leaves and down into its roots. Once the decaying process starts, bacterial assistance ensures that the nitrogen is released into the soil and made available for plants unable to draw it from the air. You may have heard tips about leaving the rootball of broad beans in the ground over winter – it’s the same principle. Nitrogen is an essential component for plant growth, so these plants are valuable assets.
Allium ursinum, better known as wild garlic, buckram or wood garlic is prolific in woodland in May and you know it’s there, even with your eyes shut – the aroma is overpowering! You can cook with it, apparently a few carefully selected young leaves are a great ingredient for recipes ranging from garlic butter to soup, but as with all foraging, great care must be taken to ensure you’re not picking something poisonous, the wild garlic leaf is quite similar in shape to lily of the valley, which really mustn’t be eaten!
Which grass is this? I have absolutely no idea, but there’s a lot of it about at the moment, swaying and rustling in the slightest breeze.
Ranunculus acris, the meadow buttercup is a common perennial found at the edge of wood and park land, but it doesn’t have the dreaded root spread of the creeping buttercup. Even on the most miserable of days, this lovely buttercup, growing as far as the eye can see is a mood lifting sight.
Persicaria maculosa ‘Redshank’ is not a welcome addition to agricultural land as it can be invasive, but this small clump was surrounded by grass and is the only one we saw in a huge area – too dry perhaps? I have a couple of its cousins in both our gardens and they can be thuggish in habit, needing a close eye to contain their spread – but I love them!
Finally, May wouldn’t be May without the frothy abundance of cow parsley, anthriscus sylvestris – pollinating insects would agree as it’s an early feast for them. It paints a beautiful picture below trees in woodland – stunning!
Next month – prolific June!