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How to spot it

Red Campion is a splash of pink commonly found on roadside verges in late spring and summer as the bluebells begin to fade. It is closely related to the rarer White Campion. Its deep pink flowers are 20mm across with notched petals on a softly hairy plant up to 1m tall. Opposite, it has oval, softly hairy leaves with hairy stems.

Where to spot it

You can find Red Campion in lowland, shady sites, woods, hedge banks, scree and cliffs. It is a common sight along rural roadside verges.

Things you might not know

  • In the Language of Flowers Red Campion symbolises gentleness.
  • The first part of Red Campion’s scientific name – Silene – comes from the Greek woodland God Silenus. He is often depicted as drunk and was the tutor of the God of Wine, Dionysus. Why? Silenus was often covered in sticky foam (his name comes from sialon, the Greek word for “saliva”). Female Red Campion flowers also produce a froth that helps catch pollen from visiting insects.
  • Red Campion is also known as Bachelors’ buttons which suggests it was once worn as a buttonhole by young, unmarried men. Other local names include Johnny Woods, Ragged Jack and Scalded Apples.
  • The flowers of Red Campion open during daylight to attract the butterflies and bees.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum

Alexanders

Smyrnium olusatrum

How to spot it

Alexanders is a large, early emerging hedgerow plant that grows up to 1.5 metres tall and has a thick main stem that can become hollow. This plant has many clusters of little yellow-green umbel flowers appearing towards the top suspended by offshoots from the main stem. The shiny green leaves smell of celery. Alexanders cbe confused with cow parsley but is generally larger and thicker stemmed.

Where to spot it

Alexanders is found mainly towards the coast, probably due to its sensitivity to frosts, which are less common in coastal areas. It is more common in the south and rare in most of Scotland. It can be found on cliffs, hedge banks, road sides and other waste land areas.

Things you might not know

  • Every part of Alexanders, also known as horse parsley, is edible. In the past almost every part of the plant was used from the young flower-buds which were pickled like miniature cauliflowers to the roots.
  • It was formerly grown as a potherb and may be worth cultivating again for its unusual pleasant taste, a bit like angelica.
  • In Latin the name means the parsley of Alexandria.
  • In England and in Ireland you find it often by ruins of abbeys and castles.
  • A soup called ‘Lenten potage’ was made of Alexanders, watercress and nettles by Irish matrons in the 18th Century.

Other Species

Field Pansy

Field Pansy

Viola arvensis

Bramble

Bramble

Rubus fruticosus

Bastard Balm

Bastard Balm

Melittis melissophyllum