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Ground Ivy is an aromatic creeping herb with funnel-shaped violet flowers.

This small, common evergreen perennial belongs to the mint family and spreads rapidly in a carpet-like form due to its creeping stems. Despite its name, it is not closely related to common ivy.

How to spot it

Ground Ivy has upright flowering stems bearing between two and four violet two-lipped flowers in a whorl. The lower lip has purple spots. Its leaves are scalloped in shape, which may explain why catsfoot is one of its many nicknames.

Where to spot it

It is commonly found in woodlands, meadows, hedgerows, and wasteland throughout the British Isles, although it is rarer in Scotland. It also thrives in lawns as it survives mowing.

Things you might not know

  • Known as a lung-cleansing herb, Ground Ivy has been used to treat coughs and other respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis.
  • It has been used a substitute for animal rennet to make cheese.
  • Ground Ivy is a rich source of vitamin C and can be used as a herbal tea.
  • Common names for Ground Ivy include Gill-over-the-ground, Creeping Charlie, Alehoof, Tunhoof, Field balm and Run-away Robin.
  • It was known as “Our Lady’s Vine” in Medieval times.
  • The Saxons used Ground Ivy to flavour and clarify their ale.

Blackening Waxcap

Hygrocybe conica 

A dark pointed mushroom with long stem growing in the grass

How to identify:

CapConical in shape. Typical waxcap texture. Dark to pale orange/yellow, blackening at the tip first or where bruised. 
Cap Diameter1.5 – 3.5 cm 
GillsPale lemon, also blackening with age. 
Stems Pale yellow, blackening with age.
FleshYellow
SporesWhite

 

Where to find them?

Blackening Waxcaps (Hygrocybe conica) sometimes appears in lines along roadside verges, particularly on hillsides or where the grass is well shaded, moist and mossy. 

Other common names

Witches Hat

Did you know?

Blackening Waxcaps can appear remarkably quickly after rain in late summer and autumn, but once mature they remain standing sometimes for more than two weeks. 

They are one of the most common waxcaps in Northern Europe.

Other Species

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum

Yew
Six red Yew berries alongside two younger green berries

Yew

Taxus baccata

String-of-sausages Lichen

String-of-sausages Lichen

Snowy Waxcap

Cuphophyllus virgineus

How to identify:

CapIvory white sometimes with a slight yellow tinge. Young snowy waxcaps have convex caps (more pointed) but these flatten with age. Often they have a slight umbo (raised area in the centre of the cap). Greasy texture.
Cap Diameter5- 7cm
GillsDecurrent gills (gills extend slightly down the stem), gills are widely spread. Brighter white than the cap but become more ivory in colour as they age
StemSlender and white, sometimes a little curved
StemSlightly greasy to touch, feels waxy when crushed.
SporesWhite

 

 

Where to find them?

Snowy Waxcaps (Cuphophyllus virgineus) can be found in parkland, garden lawns, churchyards and pastures around autumn time.

Did you know?

One of the most widely recorded waxcaps in unfertilised grassland. A variable species which includes varieties having pale buff-brown colours on the cap. Snowy waxcaps are a little more hardy than other waxcap species.

Don’t mistake them for….

The  Cedarwood Waxcap (similar white colour with distinctive smell of woof chippings).

Other Species

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum

Tree Lungwort
Tree Lungwort spanning entire branch of ancient tree

Tree Lungwort

Lobaria pulmonaria

Reindeer Moss
Small patch of jagged, white Reindeer Moss amongst bright green plants

Reindeer Moss

Cladonia rangiferina

Scarlet Waxcap

Hygrocybe coccinea

9 scarlet red waxcap mushrooms in among grass.

How to identify:

CapRed, moist and domed at first, becoming flatter with age
Cap DiameterTo 6 cm
GillsRed or yellow, broadly attached to the stem
StemRed or orange, dry and smooth
FleshRed or the same colour as the outside of the mushroom
SporesWhite

 

 

Where to find them?

With a preference for unfertilised land, the Scarlet Waxcap (Hygrocybe coccinea)  can be found on cropped grassland and woodland clearings. They often appear in large troops (a group).

Did you know?

Hygrocybe means ‘watery head’, these waxcaps are always very moist.  Coccinea means bright red (as in the food colouring cochineal) . The image above shows the justification of the name.

Don’t mistake it with…

The Crimson Waxcap

Other Species

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum

Tree Lungwort
Tree Lungwort spanning entire branch of ancient tree

Tree Lungwort

Lobaria pulmonaria

Reindeer Moss
Small patch of jagged, white Reindeer Moss amongst bright green plants

Reindeer Moss

Cladonia rangiferina