August wildflowers

I’m a few days late with this post, I need to plan my weeks more efficiently! Most of the wildflowers I’m featuring this month were spotted on a wonderful sand dune walk at Ynyslas in Borth, but we’ve also been to the South Downs and of course, Walsall Arboretum and country park.

Common centaury, centaurium erythraea, grows in sand dunes, grass and heathland. A member of the gentian family its flowers close in overcast conidtions. Historically, it was used for medicinal purposes to control fever and legend has it that it’s namesake, the centaur Chiron, used it to treat a poisoned arrow wound. I’ve also found a reference to centaury being used in exorcisms!

The commonest form of anagallis arvensis, known as the Scarlet Pimpernel has the tiniest of orangey red flowers, but they’re so bright it’s easy to spot them as long as the sun is shining. Also known as ‘Shepherds weather glass’ the petals close in overcast weather. People described as being like a scarlet pimpernel are those who are daring, mysterious or evasive, no doubt after the character in Baroness Orczy’s novels. It is however toxic and as such, extremely undesirable in grazing fields.

The rest harrow, ononis repens, grows in chalk and limestone and apparently donkeys love it! Herbally, this plant was reportedly used to remedy bladder stones and delirium, but most interestingly there is a belief that it was used to make the crown of thorns for the Crucifixion.

I think this is Portland spurge, euphorbia portlandica. Its habitats are in seaside sand dunes and rock faces and it can be commonly found on the south coasts of England and Wales.

Growing on the South Downs we spotted the herbaceous perennial, Cichorium intybus, a wild chicory. From the asteraceae family, it’s roots have been baked and used as a food additive, including by beer makers in some stouts. The leaves, although a little bitter, are edible and can be used in salads. It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock as it is easily digestible. The bee magnet flowers are delicate and extremely pretty – a lovely shade of blue!

Finally for this month, back in Walsall’s country park and a wonderful clump of sanguisorba officinalis or Great burnet. A striking plant, it grows in grassland and has historically been used to make wine and a remedy for bleeding.

Next month it’s berry, seed and hip season as we move into Autumn – plenty of fabulous colour to come!

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