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A evergreen woody climbing wild plant, commonly seen on old walls and tree trunks.
Ivy is often found carpeting the ground or growing up walls and trees.
Its flowers bloom in an umbrella-like spread. In fact the term for such a bloom – an ‘umbel’ – derives from the same source as umbrella – umbra, the Latin word for shade.
It’s leaves are dark green glossy above, paler below. On flowering shoots leaves are pointed oval.
Widespread throughout the UK.
Woods, hedgerows, rocks and walls. Very commonly found on tree trunks.
Flowers September to November.
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.
‘O perilous fyr, that in the bedstraw bredeth’ – Chaucer, “The Merchant’s Tale”
Also known as ‘yellow bedstraw’, a frothy blossom with a wonderful honey scent.
A very distinctive plant with soft clusters of bright yellow flowers that smell of hay. The leaves are narrow, dark green and in whorls. It often creeps amongst grasses, sending up tall flowering stems in summer.
It is related to the plant cleavers, or ‘Sticky Willy’ Galium aparine.
Lady’s bedstraw can be found growing across the UK.
Meadows, road verges, cliff tops, hedges, dunes and other grassy places.
In the summer months, when in bloom and producing its scent.
A native wild relative of the familiar garden vegetable.
Wild Leek has globe-like heads on stems that can grow to a metre tall. Its leaves are just like the common garden leek, although the stem is not quite so fat. All parts have a strong onion scent.
County flower of Cardiff/Caerdydd.
Found wild on Flat Holm island just off the Cardiff coast, what better than the wild leek for representing the nation’s capital?
Just one locality on Ynys Mon (Anglesey) in North Wales and on a couple of islands in the Severn Estuary, two other forms of wild leek (var. bulbifera and var. babingtonii) are distributed around the coast of the British Isles.
Sandy and rocky places near the sea, especially in old fields and hedge banks, on sheltered cliff-slopes, by paths and tracks and in drainage ditches and other disturbed places.
Flowers from late June to August
Wild Leek is believed to have be en introduced to Britain. It is a scarce species, naturalised in only a few areas.
Wild Leek, image by Robbie Blackhall-Miles
Wild Leek on Anglesey, image by Trevor Dines
A low, creeping herb, with long-stalked, light green, trefoil-shaped leaves. The flowers have five white petals, veined in lilac or purple.
In woodland, on hedgerows, banks and in other moist, usually shaded, habitats throughout the British Isles.
In flower April to May, and sometimes a second time in summer.
Remaining widespread throughout the U.K., it is one of the few species able to survive the deep shade of conifer plantations.
Its small leaves are triangular in shape and deeply toothed.
The beautiful bright blue flowers – which can be a centimetre across and have a white eye – are carried on small spikes in the axils of the leaves. Note that if the flowers are not on spikes but each one comes directly from the leaf axils then you might be looking at slender speedwell, Veronica filiformis instead.
Found throughout the UK, but rare on the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.
Generally grows in grassy places like meadows, pastures, verges and lawns, as well as in woods, hedgerows and waste ground.
When in flower, from March to July.
Like other speedwells found in the wild, it was believed that Germander speedwell was good luck for travellers, and wearing it in your buttonhole would “speed you well” on your journey.
Image by Matt Prosser
Image by Andrew Gagg
White flowers, 20-30mm across, with five petals divided half way and twice as long as the sepals. Leaves narrow, with rough edges, stalkless, in pairs, each pair at right angles to the next. It also has a square stem. (National Plant Monitoring Scheme Species ID Guide)
Hedgerows and deciduous woodland.
April to June.
Greater Stitchwort, image by L. Chmurova
Cowslips and Greater Stitchwort, image by Trevor Dines
The flower is designed to attract flies for pollination and club shaped spike releases a urine-like odour. Its fruit – a spike of bright orange berries – can be a common sight in woodlands in autumn. Like many wild berries these are toxic to humans so take care around them.
Lords-and-ladies are quite common throughout most of the UK. Mostly in hedgerows and woodland areas. The exception is north and central Scotland.
It flowers in April and May, but is also a striking sight when its bright orange berries are in fruit in autumn.
The plant’s fascinating shape and form has inspired a wide variety of names.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many have rather bawdy associations.
Lords-and-Ladies. Image by Dominic Price
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