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Summer Snowflake

Leucojum aestivum

How to spot it

Summer Snowflake has dainty bell-shaped flowers which are white in colour.

Where to spot it

It flourishes in boggy areas, as well as in riverside marshes and wet open woodland. Despite its common name it actually flowers from April to May.

Things you might not know

  • Summer Snowflake is the county flower of Berkshire.
  • It grows beside the River Loddon in Berkshire, where its local name is the Loddon lily.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Bog Rosemary

Andromeda polifolia

Months

Colour

Habitat

How to spot it

Bog Rosemary is a beautiful relative of heather, with delicate pink bell-shaped flowers. The rosemary-like foliage of this wildflower never fails to enchant those lucky enough to find it during its brief flowering in late spring. The upper sides of the leaves are a similar grey-green and the undersides are silver.

Where to spot it

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bog Rosemary is often found in bogs. It is confined to central Britain, from mid-Wales (especially Cardiganshire) to southern Scotland. One of the special plants of the central Irish peat-bogs, it is rarer in the north, but occurs in Tyrone.

How’s it doing?

Bog Rosemary is a declining species and is a particular feature of the much-reduced bogs and flowers of Galloway.

Things you might not know

  • It’s the county flower of Cardiganshire/Ceredigion, County Tyrone and Kirkcudbright.
  • The genus of Bog Rosemary was named by Carl Linnaeus who compared the plant to Andromeda from Greek mythology when he observed it during his 1732 expedition to Lapland. The specific epithet polifolia means “grey-leaved”.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Adder’s Tongue Spearwort

Ranunculus ophioglossifolius

How to spot it

Adder’s Tongue Spearwort is a pretty plant with small, bright yellow buttercup-like flowers. The leaves are pointed oval, quite unlike ordinary buttercup leaves. When submerged, the pale greenish-yellow leaves float to the surface like small water-lily leaves.

Where to spot it

Adder’s Tongue Spearwort can be found in wet or marshy places, often round the edges of field ponds. It prospers at the edge of cattle ponds in the churned-up mud. It’s a sensitive plant, requiring low competition, low water levels in summer, and plenty of rain in early winter.

Adder’s Tongue Spearwort is now found at only two sites in Gloucestershire, having previously grown in several parts of southern England. With human intervention, a sizeable population of plants flower and fruit every year.

How’s it doing?

Adder’s Tongue Spearwort is classified as Vulnerable and protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, perhaps unsurprising given its exceedingly picky requirements.

It is mainly threatened by loss of grazing on pastures and commons, loss of muddy ponds, or overgrazing and excessive trampling too early in the year. Climate change with drier winters also causes drying out of small ponds. Without a mild, frost-free Autumn and enough rain to keep the ground moist for seedlings to develop, they can be uprooted by birds or killed by trampling livestock.

Things you might not know

  • The Latin name Ranunculus means ‘froglike’, referring to the plant’s preference for aquatic habitats.
  • The specific part of the scientific name, ophioglossifolius refers to the shape of the leaves that resemble the small fern Ophioglossum.
  • Adder’s Tongue Spearwort is at the northern edge of its range in Britain.
  • The two sites where it can be found in Gloucestershire are Badgeworth (hence its alternative name: the Badgeworth Buttercup) and Inglestone Common.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Cottongrass (Common)

Eriophorum angustifolium

Cottongrass (Common) is the county flower of Manchester. Its white plumes are a familiar sight in wet hollows on the moors above the city. They are an emblem both of their boggy habitat and of the wide open spaces.

How to spot it

Cottongrass (Common) has a fluffy, cotton-like flower and seed heads which give this distinctive plant its name. Cottongrass is a member of the sedge family and so not technically a grass at all. It thrives in the harshest of environments where it can take advantage of the lack of competition. After fertilisation in early summer, the small, unremarkable green and brown flowers develop distinctive white seed-heads that resemble tufts of cotton. Combined with its ecological suitability to bogs, these characteristics give rise to the plant’s alternative name, Bog Cotton.

Where to spot it

It is common in bogs throughout the UK and Ireland. Cottongrass (Common) likes open, wet, peaty ground and so is likely to indicate areas best avoided when out for a walk.

Things you might not know

  • The fluffy white fronds of Cottongrass were once used as a feather substitute in pillow stuffing in Suffolk and Sussex. Experiments have been done to see if a usable thread can be derived from the seed-plumes. However, the fibres are too short and brittle.
  • It has been used in the production of candle wicks and paper in Germany. In Scotland, Cottongrass was used to dress wounds during First World War.
  • Cottongrass seeds and stems are edible and are used in traditional Native American cuisine by Alaska natives, Inupiat people and Inuit. The roots and leaves are also edible and, owing to their astringent properties, are used by the Yupik peoples for medicinal purposes. Through a process of infusion, decoction and poultice they are used to treat aliments of the gastrointestinal tract and in the Old World for the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum