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Reindeer Moss

Cladonia rangiferina

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

Despite its name, reindeer moss is actually a lichen (in fact it is also known as ‘reindeer lichen’).

Composed of many light and dainty branches, it grows in cushion-like tufts. When dry it can be quite brittle but once wet it becomes somewhat sponge-like.

Where it grows

Reindeer moss is usually found on moors and heathland, often growing in pockets of soil attached to rocky outcrops.

Bright white Reindeer Moss surrounding green plants

Best time to see Reindeer Moss

Reindeer Moss can be spotted all throughout the year.

Something you might not know

The only naturalised reindeer in the UK are found in the Scottish Highlands where they live for much of the year on reindeer moss.

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Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

Marsh-marigold
Ten bright yellow Marsh-marigold flowers

Marsh-marigold

Caltha palustris

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Lamium purpureum

Hazel Glove Fungus

Hypocreopsis rhododendri

Description

Found on Hazel trees in Britain, it is actually parasitic on the Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugate not living off the Hazel tree. It is not always possible to see the host crust fungus due to the presence of the Hazel Glove fungus and mosses.

Hazel Glove Fungus’ common name comes from the finger-like projections of the stromata (cushion-like plate of solid mycelium).  It is a type of ascomycete fungus. When mature, the central area of a stroma becomes pinkish brown, and individual perithecia (tiny black dots on the surface of these orange lobes which are sac openings which release the spores) become visible.

Distribution

Most likely to find in either west coast of Scotland in Atlantic Hazel woodland or temperate rainforest sites or in the south west of England, in North Devon and Cornwall, again in temperate rainforest habitat.

Habitat

Temperate rainforest, parasitic on Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugata on Hazel trees.

Did you know?

Hazel Glove fungus is an indicator of good air quality and temperate rainforest conditions, making it a flagship species for this threatened habitat.

Temperate rainforests are found in areas that are influenced by the sea, with high rainfall and humidity and damp climate. They are home to some intriguing and sometimes rare bryophytes, plants and fungi.

Plantlife are working in many ways to protect and restore this globally threatened habitat.

Other Species

Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

Marsh-marigold
Ten bright yellow Marsh-marigold flowers

Marsh-marigold

Caltha palustris

Lady Orchid
Close up of multiple pink-purple Lady Orchids amongst foliage

Lady Orchid

Orchis purpurea

Violet Coral

Clavaria zollingeri

Violet coloured fungus with branches looking like coral on a green grassy area.

How to identify

Fruiting BodyCoral shaped and of a distinctive purple-violet colour
Fruiting body size3-10cm tall and up to 8cm across.
Individual stems are typically 4-7mm in diameter at the base,
branching upwards and outwards
SporesWhite

Where to find them?

Violet Coral (Clavaria zollingeri) is a rare species in Britain found in unimproved grassland. It is usually solitary, but can occur in small groups.

Did you know?

It is listed as vulnerable across Europe on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

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

Big Blue Pinkgill

Entoloma bloxamii

Months

Season

Colour

Habitat

A chunky blue mushroom laid out on grass

How to identify

CapA distinctive blue-grey colour when fresh. Conical at first
becoming convex and developing an umbo (a raised area in the centre of the mushroom cap)
Cap diameterTo 10cm
GillsWhite, becoming salmon pink, and broadly attached.
StemColour as cap, sometimes paler at the base, and fibrillose
Flesh
SporesBrownish/pink

 

Where to find them?

A very rare find, Big Blue Pinkgill Entoloma bloxamii grows in unfertilised, long-established grasslands, usually on neutral or calcareous soils

Did you know?

In 2019 it was listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in the UK, and a large area of mainland Europe.

With thanks to Debbie Evans for our image.

 

Other Species

Read Dead-nettle

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Lamium purpureum

Yew
Six red Yew berries alongside two younger green berries

Yew

Taxus baccata

String-of-sausages Lichen

String-of-sausages Lichen

Pink Ballerina Waxcap

Porpolomopsis calytriformis 

Months

Season

Colour

Habitat

Pink waxcap fungi growing in short green lawn

How to identify:

CapPale pink, fading with age. Conical at first then spreading and splitting. 
Cap Diameter2 – 7 cm across 
Gills Pale pink when young, becoming paler 
StemsWhite
FleshN/A
SporesWhite

 

 

Where to find them?

The Pink Ballerina Waxcap (Porpolomopsis calytriformis) is uncommon and localised in Britain and Ireland.

Due to favouring unimproved acid or neutral grassland it is more often seen in western Britain and particularly in Wales, sometimes in churchyards but more often on sheep-grazed acid grassland in the hills. 

Did you know?

Commonly referred to as the Ballerina Waxcap, because of the way the pink cap flares out and splits like a tutu or pirouetting dancer.  

The Ballerina Waxcap is on the The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (ICNU) Red List. At present it is a decreasing species and listed as vulnerable.

Don’t mistake it with…

The Meadow Waxcap.

 

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

Juniper

Juniperis communis

Juniper berries.

Description

A prickly, sprawling evergreen shrub in the Cypress family with short spiky leaves.

Juniper blooms with small yellow flowers, followed by ‘berries’ – actually fleshy cones, that start green but ripen to blue-black.

These are famously used to flavour gin and certain meat dishes particularly game and venison. Used whole they impart a bitter, crunchy bite to savoury dishes. In fact, the word “Gin” derives from either genièvre or jenever – the French and Dutch words for “juniper”

Juniper is dioecious, which means that it is either male or female, unlike most tree species. The form of individual bushes varies from being low and prostrate at the one extreme to cylindrical and conical at the other.

Close up photo of a Juniper berry on a bush

Did you know?

  • Juniper dates back 10,000 years and was one of the first tree species to colonise the UK after the last Ice Age.
  • Juniper berries are used to flavour gin and have other uses like firewood or as a substitute for barbed wire.
  • Juniper plants take at least seven years to grow and are vulnerable to being eaten by animals.
  • In the 19th century, large tracts of Juniper were harvested for fuel for illicit trade of unlicensed whisky stills
  • It has also been called Bastard killer as the berries were swallowed to procure abortions. Its reputation as an abortifacient has echoes in the Victorian belief that gin (aptly called ‘Mother’s ruin’) was effective for the same purpose.
gloved hand holding juniper berries with the reverse the red blog

What is Plantlife doing?

In the Saving England’s Lowland Juniper project, Plantlife joined forces with landowners, supported by Natural England, to revitalise Juniper across southern England. 48 patches of land at nine sites in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire were scraped back to create a grassland habitat suitable for Juniper to regenerate.

 
Read more

a field of grass field with a variety of flowers in pink, purple, yellow and white

How can I help?

Become a grassland guardian and help restore 10,000 hectares of species-rich grassland by 2030. Donate today.

Other Species

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum

Lady Orchid
Close up of multiple pink-purple Lady Orchids amongst foliage

Lady Orchid

Orchis purpurea

Scottish Primrose
A Scottish Primrose with three bright pink flower heads amongst grass

Scottish Primrose

Primula scotica

Wild Leek

Allium ampeloprasum

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?

Distribution

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.

Habitat

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.

Best time to see

Flowers from late June to August

A wild leek flower head

Status

Wild Leek is believed to have be en introduced to Britain. It is a scarce species, naturalised in only a few areas.

Did you know…

  • The Wild Leek is the Wild crop relative of our cultivated leek but looks more like Elephant Garlic than the green and white leek you would recognise.
  • The leek is one of the two national plants of Wales – the story goes that King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers (the Cymry) to identify themselves in an ancient battle against the Saxons by wearing a leek on their helmet.
  • Wild leeks were probably introduced to Wales from the Eastern Mediterranean as early as the bronze age but are unfortunately now Classed as Vulnerable to extinction on the Welsh Red List of Plants. Plantlife supports a project to ensure that the Wild Leek is protected at its only site in Wales.

Other Species

Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

Marsh-marigold
Ten bright yellow Marsh-marigold flowers

Marsh-marigold

Caltha palustris

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum

Pale Dog-violet

Viola lactea

Pale dog-violet in grass

A milky-flowered member of the violet family known in French as la Violette blanche (the white violet).

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.

Distribution

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).

Habitat

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.

Pale dog-violet in grass

Key threats

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.

Best time to see

May and June whilst flowering.

Other Species

Big Blue Pinkgill
A chunky blue mushroom laid out on grass

Big Blue Pinkgill

Entoloma bloxamii

Birds-foot Trefoil

Birds-foot Trefoil

Lotus corniculatus

Blackening Waxcap
A dark pointed mushroom with long stem growing in the grass

Blackening Waxcap

Hygrocybe conica

Green-winged Orchid

Orchis morio

Its Latin name, morio, means ‘fool’ and refers to the jester-like motley of its green and purple flowers.

It can sometimes be confused with the early-purple orchid – the difference is in the leaves, which are not spotted, and the sepals which have green veins.

Green-winged orchid was chosen as the County Flower of Ayrshire. It can also be seen growing at our Joan’s Hill Farm Reserve in Herefordshire.

Distribution

Widespread in most of England but has become scarce in the south-west. It is also less common in the north of England. It is well known on the Welsh coast and can be found in one small area on the west coast of Scotland

Did you know?

The green-winged orchid has many names in Scotland, suggesting a lively folklore: hen’s kames (combs), bull’s bags, dog’s dubbles, keet legs and deid man’s thoombs!

Other Species

Big Blue Pinkgill
A chunky blue mushroom laid out on grass

Big Blue Pinkgill

Entoloma bloxamii

Birds-foot Trefoil

Birds-foot Trefoil

Lotus corniculatus

Blackening Waxcap
A dark pointed mushroom with long stem growing in the grass

Blackening Waxcap

Hygrocybe conica

Pasqueflower

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Months

Season

Habitat

“…a fair claim to being the most dramatically and exotically beautiful of all English plants.”

– Geoffrey Grigson, “The Englishman’s Flora”

Description

One of our most magnificent wild flowers with feathery leaves and large purple blooms with a central boss of golden stamens.

The Pasqueflower blooms around Easter, hence the name “Pasque” (meaning “like Paschal”, of Easter). Its bell-like flowers open to track the path of the sun each day, nodding and closing at night. These are often followed by feathery seed heads. It’s a perennial plant, froming a neat clump of soft, hairy leaves.

How to spot it

A large purple bloom with a central boss of golden stamens and feathery leaves.

Where it grows

Dry calcareous grasslands, limestone banks and hillsides.

Best time to see

April when it flowers.

How’s it doing?

A rare wildflower which has been lost from many of the places it used to grow. Lack of grazing and scrub encroachment pose a serious threat to many of the remaining populations and it is considered “Vulnerable” in Britain.

3 things you may not know

  • Legend has it that Pasqueflowers grow on the graves of Viking warriors, springing from their blood. Pasqueflowers certainly do have a preference for earthworks and barrows, but this is probably due to their need for undisturbed chalk grassland, often where such monuments are sited.
  • It’s a rare plant, regarded as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ today as it has been lost from 108 sites and is now found at only 19, all in England. Hertfordshire boasts one of the largest colonies at the Therfield Heath Coronation Meadow with up to 60,000 plants – a heart-warming sight as spring returns to the downs.
  • You can grow this beauty in your garden.

Other Species

Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

Viola odorata

Marsh-marigold
Ten bright yellow Marsh-marigold flowers

Marsh-marigold

Caltha palustris

Read Dead-nettle

Read Dead-nettle

Lamium purpureum