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Hemlock has umbrella-like white flowers, which appear in dome shaped rounded clumps in summer, which are usually 2-5 cm across.
One of the easiest ways to identify Hemlock is by its stems – which are mostly large, hairless and have purple spots or blotches along their length.
The leaves are fine and look similar to ferns – lacy and similar to that of others in the carrot family.
Hemlock is one of the UK’s tallest native umbellifer species, growing up to 2 metres and can smell quite unpleasant. The unpleasant smell is caused by the poisonous chemicals and acts as a deterrent to animals.
All parts of this plant are poisonous and all members of this family should be treated with caution, notably because Hemlock can be easily mistaken for Cow Parsley and other harmless members of it’s family.
The hairless purple blotched stems are key to identifying this plant (pictured), as well as the extremely unpleasant smell.
It can also be distinguished through it’s flowering time, as it flowers after Cow Parsley, and around the same time as Hogweed, in June and July.
Hemlock could be confused with Hogweed, Upright Hedge-parsley and Hemlock Water-dropwort (also poisonous).
Likes damp places such as along streams, but can also be found growing in dry habitats such as scrubland and waste land.
Widespread in most of England and the lowland areas of Wales, also found in some southern or coastal areas of Scotland.
We must remember that almost all wild plants & fungi are no danger to us as we go about our days. Plants are the foundation of life, and we need a world rich in plants to tackle the twin climate and biodiversity crises.
Also known as “Hardheads” or “Black knapweed”, this wild flower is one of our toughest meadow plants.
Knapweed is a firm favourite of our pollinating insects, being a source of good quality nectar. And as well as supporting our bee, butterflies and beetles its seeds provide food for many birds.
Somewhat thistle-like, common knapweed can be identified by its slightly spherical black/brown flower head, growing alone, topped with purple, pink or (more rarely) white. The bracts are triangular in shape. Its leaves are linear to lance-like in shape with incomplete lobes.
Greater knapweed – a close relation – is similar but its flowers are more garish and opulent and its leaves are fully lobed.
Found throughout Britain.
Knapweed is a wild flower of meadows and other grassland habitats from lawns to cliff-tops. It can often be seen on road verges where wildlife is allowed to thrive and also in hedges.
In flower, June to September.
The Tufted Saxifrage population in Wales grows on just a couple of boulders where it is extremely threatened by spring droughts and lack of winter snow cover.
Just 2 small boulders at one site in Wales and a number of sites in Scotland.
Cliff ledges and boulders on calcium rich rocks in Eryri and the Scottish Highlands
This species flowers from May through to early June however the inaccessibility of its sites makes it a very difficult species to see in the wild.
Tufted Saxifrage was first discovered in the wild in Wales in 1796 but wasn’t seen between the late 1800’s and the 1950’s when it was rediscovered by Evan Roberts (the first warden of Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve).
In the 1970’s its population was bolstered by a conservation reintroduction and it saw a population high in the 1980’s. Since then it has seen a steady decline and the Welsh population of Tufted Saxifrage now (2023) numbers just seven plants in the wild.
Through the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri Project (part of Natur am Byth!) we are successfully cultivating Welsh Tufted Saxifrage plants with a plan to enable them to move higher up the mountains of Eryri to sites where they will see snow for longer in the winter.
Read about Natur am Byth! A Green Recovery project to save vulnerable species from extinction in Wales, including the Tufted Saxifrage
Saxifraga rosacea subsp. rosacea
The Irish Saxifrage was once found in Wales too. Its upright buds and bright white flowers distinguish it clearly from the other ‘mossy’ saxifrages found in the British Isles.
Several localities in Ireland and once known from just one locality in Eryri, Wales.
Calcium rich rock ledges and crevices.
You can see this species flowering in cultivation at the National Botanic Garden of Wales during May and June
Rosy Saxifrage is extinct in the wild in Wales. It was last seen in the wild in Wales in the 1960’s.
Richard Roberts discovered a piece of a plant that had been washed down from a cliff whilst he was leading a group on a geology walk. Noticing it was something different he took the piece of plant home and grew it. All the Welsh Rosy Saxifrage material now kept in cultivation came from that small piece of plant. Through the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri Project (part of Natur am Byth!) we plan to reintroduce Rosie Saxifrage to the wild again in Wales.
‘How in bloom they will resemble Moths, the gloss of mirrors, Christmas Stars, their helmets blushing Red-brown when they marry’ – Medbh McGuckian, ‘The Orchid House’
Flowers in dense spike, white, pink or pale purple, with darker streak and loop markings. Pointed leaves with round purple blotches.
It is often confused with the Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). Common Spotted-orchid has broader leaves with wider blotches and flowers with a more deeply lobed lip.
It is more common in northern and western Britain. It is very plentiful along peaty roadsides in parts of Scotland.
It grows in damp places in marshes, bogs, and acid grassland. It prefers sunny places on lowlands or hills. Whilst it can be found in slightly damp meadows, it is also found in the undergrowth of dry forests, at the edges of streams and in areas with bushes. It grows on siliceous and calcareous substrate.
When in flower, from June to August
The genus name Dactylorhiza is formed from the Greek words “daktylos” meaning “finger” and “rhiza” meaning “root”, referring to the tubers of this plant, that are split into several tubercles. The specific Latin name maculata meaning spotted refers to the stained leaves.
It is also known as the Moorland Spotted Orchid.
In fact the second part of its scientific name – lactea – means ‘milky’ in Latin. It has creeping stems originating from a rosette of leaves about its base.
A species of humid heathland and grass heath in southern England, largely confined to key heathland districts including the Wealden and Thames Basin heaths, the New Forest and Dorset heaths, and through much of Devon and Cornwall (though rarely ever commonly).
Pale Dog-violet is a species of humid heathland and grass heath (including the Culm grasslands), favouring areas with short vegetation and considerable bare ground created by burning, grazing or incidental disturbance such as rutting, turf cutting etc.
The species’ greatest threat comes from the cessation of traditional management practices, notably winter swaling (burning of dead grass and dwarf shrubs) and traditional stock grazing, ideally by cattle and/or ponies.
May and June whilst flowering.
Pale Dog-violet in grass
Bright yellow discs of tightly packed florets above a rosette of jaggedly toothed leaves are followed by fluffy white seed heads. The plants are perennial and have a long tap root.
Dandelions mostly occur in disturbed habitats such as pastures, roadside verges, lawns, tracks, paths and waste ground.
Dandelions are widespread and stable throughout the British Isles.
Dandelions and daisies on a Wiltshire lawn, image by Archie Thomas
Ashy Mining Bee on Dandelion, image by Pip Gray
It spreads to form small patches of plain green hairless leaves that are carried in pairs and look similar to a large version of Thyme, hence the name.
The tips of the shoots rise up and turn into short flower spikes, bearing a succession of tiny white or pale blue flowers, 5-6mm across. Look closely and you’ll see that their uppermost petal is usually veined with darker blue. Only a few flowers open at a time and their pale colour can make this plant hard to spot.
Found throughout the UK.
Grows in a wide range of dry and damp places including grassy pastures, lawns and verges as well as woodland rides, heaths and cultivated land and waste ground.
When in flower, from March to October.
Often found in parks, banks and lawns – any type of grassland habitat – White Clover is the commonest of the clovers.
The White Clover flowerheads are ball-shaped cluster on a long stem, made up of tiny individual white and sometimes very pale pink flowers. The leaves have the archetypal ‘cloverleaf’ shape: three rounded leaflets often with a pale band.
Common across the UK.
Almost any grassy habitat.
Flowers from June to September.
White Clover lawn, image by Archie Thomas
White Clover, image by Trevor Dines
It grows as a small tuft or matt with stems that are sometimes reddish in colour. These carry little hairy leaves in pairs, which give the plant its common name of mouse-ear. The stems rise up at their tips and carry a few white flowers at their tips. Each of these is 3-12 mm across and formed from five petals that are deeply notched at their tips, giving them a starry appearance. Often, only one or two flowers are open at a time.
A very wide range of grassy and disturbed habitats including meadows, pastures, verges, dunes and mountain grassland. Also in wetter places fens and mires and also on heathland. Survives mowing and therefore common lawns.
When in flower, from April to late summer.
Very common. Found on grassy areas across the UK.
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