Tag Archives: hogweed

Greater Stitchwort's starry flowers

Let’s find out ‘What I’m going to be when I grow up’! The plant quiz answers.

Last Monday I posed a little plant quiz here on Oak Trees Studio … the plants were mainly flowering woodland plants that had not yet quite flowered. A few of my keen-eyed readers have had some fun puzzling over the photos and trying to work out “What I’m going to be when I grow up”. Everyone correctly identified some of them and came close on others. Here are the plants in their more usual flowering glory, complete with their names.

Mystery wildflower No.1

This one was definitely going to be a member of the thistle family, but which one?

Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustra

The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland
The very spiny Marsh Thistle, growing in damp woodland

We see lots of these tall and rather slender thistles growing in our damp woodlands.

Mystery wildflower No.2

The best clue I could find was its muddy habitat – this one likes its feet wet. I love its Latin name! I always think it should be a Roald Dahl character.

Brooklime Veronica beccabunga

Brooklime - the puddle flower
Brooklime – the flower that likes to grow in puddles

Here’s a closer shot of those beautiful blue – but rather shy – flowers …

Brooklime flowers
Brooklime flowers

We find lots of Brooklime growing on one of our favourite woodland paths – we call it “the muddy path”!

Mystery flower No.3

This strong-growing umbellifer with its large hairy leaves grows ubiquitously in our area, along roadsides and woodland rides. Perhaps it is not quite so common in other parts of the country, though it evidently reminded some people of other members of the umbellifer family.

Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium

Hogweed flowers with hoverfly
Hogweed flowers with hoverfly

Mystery flower No.4

This delicate woodland flower is almost bursting into flower in our woodlands now. It is a plant with two common names – it probably depends where you live as to which name you know it by. One quiz entrant named it as Wood Avens and that’s its main name in my wildflower ID book so there we are. It’s delicate bright yellow 5-petalled flowers don’t last long and soon turn into hooked reddish seedheads.

Wood Avens (or as I know it, Herb Bennet) Geum urbanum
[and would you believe it! I can’t find any photos of it just at the moment! photo will follow! … fortunately they are almost flowering now! :)]

UPDATE: 15th June 2015 ~ After our woodland wander this weekend – here are the photos I promised🙂

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet)

Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) seedhead
Wood Avens (Herb Bennet) – red hooked seedhead

Mystery flower No.5

This was the easy one that everyone spotted. The trifoliate leaves and those fluffy pinkish buds were a give-away, weren’t they?

Red Clover Trifolium pratense

Red Clover on the Railway Meadow
Red Clover on the Railway Meadow

… and here’s a closer view of this Summer meadow stalwart.

Red Clover flower
Red Clover flower

Mystery flower No.6

This flower has those small and shiny, spoon-shaped leaves with serrated edges on quite solid, straight stems. Its flowers form as dimpled buttons then burst open with sunny radiance in late Spring and early Summer. Many people will have a version of this flower growing in their gardens.

Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse
Oxeye Daisy flowers with gorse

We find Oxeye Daisies growing along some of our old railway paths but they are equally at home along our woodland rides too. I love their sunny flowers.

… and finally – what was that mystery seedling?

At this time of year, the large seed leaves of these tiny seedlings are just beginning to be overshadowed by the first true leaves of this popular forest friend. The woodland floor is dotted with these curious seedlings as they form a mini-forest of their own among the feet of their super-sized parents.

Beech Fagus sylvatica

Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree
Beech seedling at the foot of a Beech tree

… and here are our beechwoods in their cool luxurious Summer greens.

Summer Beechwoods

At the end of last week’s quiz post I mentioned how the Beech seedling’s over-sized seed leaves reminded me of an umbrella and how the leaves of the parent tree can make a useful umbrella when caught in a sharp Summer downpour. Here are our younger boys in their Beech tree ‘rain shelter’ when we were caught out in one such Summer rain storm a few years ago.

The beechwood drenching and 'rain shelter'
The beechwood ‘rain shelter’

Thank you to everyone who took part in my little plant quiz and for all your comments. It’s been fun finding the photos of the plants in flower … even though Wood Avens seem to have slipped through our usual enthusiastic level of photography of woodland wildflowers! Ah well, another trip to the woods is going to be needed to remedy that soon 😀

J Peggy Taylor

Sunny Saturday in the woods

New month: Nature roundup

We seem to have spun through January and reached February already in 2014. I am relieved to say in our northern valley, apart from periodic bouts of strong winds and gales, we have not suffered with the extreme weather conditions that are being experienced elsewhere in the UK.

Walking out in our local countryside in mild winter sunshine on both days of this weekend I couldn’t help thinking about the people of Somerset and others who are still suffering flooding – a month on – with the weather forecast again offering them little in the way of respite.

In recent winters we’ve had snow that lasted for weeks but this year on the first weekend in February, muddy paths and busy burns were the only signs of winter weather we encountered. The sunshine was very pleasant and we remarked on it with other walkers we met along the way.

Whilst I would say our winter has been relatively mild, we were still very surprised on Saturday when within a short stretch of a favourite woodland path we spotted Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) in three different stages of growth.

Green Hogweed in February
Green Hogweed in February

The first example was particularly remarkable as it was not brown and broken as you’d expect in late winter, but green with newly-formed seed pods! We normally see it at that stage in August not February!

Seedhead stars on old Hogweed stems
Seedhead stars on old Hogweed stems

A little further on, along the stretch of path where summer finds us spotting curious insect-life, some brown stems of last summer’s Hogweed were still standing proud above the remains of other plants and grasses. I love the way the winter light reflects from their starry seedless heads. These old stalks still have beauty to offer yet.

Hogweed with seeds - in February
Hogweed with seeds – in February

Across the path in the lea of the towering mature pine trees we saw our third state of Hogweed. These ones were in full autumn glory, their heads sporting a full complement of perfectly formed seeds – again, a beautiful sight with the morning sun catching them as they danced in the light breeze.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage by the burn
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage by the burn

As we retraced our steps homeward we stopped by the burn to seek out any signs of early spring flowers. No Dog’s Mercury or Wood Sorrel yet, but the very-small-flower-with-the-very-long-name was looking promising by the waters-edge. I’m talking about Opposite-Leaved Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium)- which, as you can see, is indeed a very long name for so small a plant. The tiny golden flowers were ready in their buds so I’m sure will appear very soon.

Sunday brought another chance for a sunny walk under azure blue skies. Today’s walk was in a different direction, along the valley side on an old mineral line before dropping into another woodland below. The spring signs I was seeking here were Blackthorn blossom, Gorse, Broom and Primroses. I found two out of four, so wasn’t disappointed.

The Blackthorn buds are filling up but none had burst forth yet. Both Gorse and Broom grow along the old railway line. I thought the Gorse looked particularly beautiful against the amazing blue of the sky.

gorse-against-blue-sky

The birch trees with their white trunks and purple twigs also caught my eye as I walked along.

winter-birches-blue-sky

There was lots of mud in the wood … but no sign of primroses today. Still, there’s plenty of time for them yet.

J Peggy Taylor