Field Forget Me Not
By far the most common of our forgetmenots. It is an annual, growing to around 40cm. The flowers are blue though some remain pink with 5 slightly concave petals with a contrasting yellow centre. The stems and leaves are downy, oblong in shape and usually unstalked. Forgetmenots belong to the Borage family. A plant of bare and disturbed ground.
The Latin name – Myosotis – comes from the Ancient Greek word “mouse’s ear”, which the foliage is thought to resemble; while the common name was borrowed from the German and first used in English in AD 1398 in the reign of Henry IV. The plant is used symbolically around the world and for example in Germany it is used to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the world wars in a similar manner to the use of poppies in the UK.
Flowers April to October This photograph was taken at the bottom of Smithy Lane.
A rather sprawling hairy low perennial to 50cm. Flowers brilliant azure blue with a white eye. The leaves are pointed and well toothed. It frequents grassy places.
It flowers April to July. This specimen was found growing at the edge of a front garden in Mouldsworth above Delemere road and just below the Goshawk pub.
Common throughout our woods in the spring our native bluebell grows to 50 cm. The bell-shaped flowers are an azure blue and have creamy anthers. The flowers which are 14-20mm in size are arranged to one-side of the stem (unlike the Spanish bluebell). Leaves are narrow, smooth and hairless, with a pointed tip. Grows in woods and hedge-banks.
The sticky sap of bluebells was once used to bind the pages of books and glue the feathers onto arrows, and during the Elizabethan period, their bulbs were crushed to make starch for the ruffs of collars and sleeves. Due to their toxicity, there has been little use for bluebells in modern medicine although their bulbs are diuretic and help to stop bleeding properties.
Flowers April to June. Bluebells are widespread in our area, the one shown was photographed on the Baker Way where it intersects Old Lane.
The common bluebell of gardens, paler blue and often pink or white. Often hybridises with the native bluebell. It can be distinguised from our native bluebell by its erecter, not one sided spikes of larger, flatter flowers with blue anthers and broader leaves.
Flowers April to June.
This was seen on the hedge bank opposite Ashton Grange.
A low creeping perennial that grows to 30 cm. The tiny flowers (5 -8 mm) are pale blue or white with violet veins. Leaves are oval, shiny and, unlike most speedwells, untoothed. Likes dry grassy places (including lawns) and heaths.
Flowers April to October.
This example spotted on a bank along the footpath linking Station Road and Smithy Lane in Mouldsworth.
A low, short (up to 40cm long) and sprawling perennial with small, delicate flowers that are dwarfed by the much larger leaves. The stems are hairy, the leaves toothed and long stalked and of a rather pale yellowy-green appearance. The flowers are pale lilac with darker streaks. They are usually found in woodlands.
Flowers April to July.
The example shown was seen in the hedgerow where Chapel Lane (Mouldsworth) extends into Manley Lane.
Moschatel is a low hairless perennial growing to 15cm flowering in late April.
The delicate flowers are greenish, tiny and in fives at right angles to each other to make a small head and it is the characteristic that gives the plant its other common name of Town Hall Clock.
It prefers growing in shady, moist habitats, often in deciduous woodland or shaded places. Locally it grows shaded by the trees on the bank just off the footpath between Mouldsworth and Ashton but it can be difficult to spot.
Our commonest weedy spurge, a short hairless unbranched annual to 30cms.
Flowerheads very small and green. Leaves oval mid-green and untoothed. Grows in gardens and other cultivated and waste land.
Flowers April to November.
Photographed outside of the Ashton Village Hall.
This plant is a weed of bare and disturbed ground, and is our only common Spurge with toothed leaves. It is a short hairless annual with bright yellowish-green flower heads with roundish green lobes.
It flowers from April to November and even through mild winters.
This plant was found growing in the tractor ruts just off Shay Lane.
Ivy Leaved Toadflax
The ivy-leaved toadflax is a diminutive plant that grows on walls forming a delicate veil of foliage embroidered with tiny lilac flowers that have a touch of yellow on the lower lip. Despite its name the apple-green leaves are not particularly ivy-like, being closer in shape to that of the maple leaf. The sprawling stems can grow to a length of 60 cm.
An alien plant that has been present in the UK since the 17th century, it is said to have been originally introduced via seeds attached to marble sculptures brought in to Oxford from Italy. It has established itself on the walls of colleges and gardens in Oxford in such abundance as to give it the name “Oxford-weed”.
The leaves are edible and have a flavour similar to that of watercress.
Flowers April to December. This example was growing on an old sandstone wall on Quarry Lane, Manley.
Much the commonest of our 10 species with its greyish pinnate leaves which can ramble on hedge banks or walls 1m.
It has been used since Roman times for its purifying properties and a general tonic but can have a hypnotic effect over several days. It has also been used as a skin lotion e.g. for fading freckles, eczema.
Flowers April to November. This was growing by a footpath alongside a field of maize at Peel Hall.
A small often spiny tree to 10m. Flowers pale pink darker on the back, in small clusters. Fruit is a small apple, yellow-green but often reddening.
The fruit can be used to make crab apple jelly or to add bitterness when making cider from cultivated apples.
It flowers April to May This specimen was found growing in the hedgerow along Kelsall Road.
Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock is a charming and common spring flower. Its habitats are damp meadows and moist places in woodland.
The plant is often covered with ‘cuckoo spit’ which is produced by leaf-hopper larvae which suck juice from the stem and this, when mixed with air, yields the familiar froth. The plant is rich in mustard oil and Vitamin C. It flowers April to June. The flower pictured was seen growing on the marshy meadow alongside the footpath that runs between Moss Lane and Sugar Lane in the Mouldsworth/Manley area.
The delightful Dove’s-foot Cranesbill is a low sprawling annual with tiny pink-purple flowers to 6mm. The petals are notched and the leaves roundish cut to at least halfway. This cranesbill grows in grassy and waste places often with bare patches.
Nicholas Culpeper in his herbal of 1652 suggested a variety of uses for Dove’s-foot Cranesbill, including the treatment of internal and external injuries. A note was also made that the bruised leaf healed external injuries faster. A decoction in wine was said to relieve gout and other joint pains.
It flowers April to September. The example here was growing in the grass verge at the corner of Peel Crescent and Brookside.
A strong smelling short/medium hairy sprawling annual with stems often reddish, to 50cms. It frequents wood edges, hedgerows and banks but also mountain screes.
In the past it was used as a treatment for eye inflammation and as a mouthwash. Freshly crushed leaves are said to ward off mosquitoes.
It flowers April to November This example was growing in the community pavilion field at the base of the hedgerow.
A charming medium hairy annual to 40cms with strong pink albeit small flowers. Likes growing by hedges, banks, walls and bare ground
They flower from April to August. This example was growing (before the grass was cut) on the protected Green Space at the entrance to Peel Hall Lane from the main road. It can also be seen at the junction of Norton Lane and Gongar Lane.
An increasingly common garden escape growing on hedge-banks and waysides. Flowers can be purple or white (28-31 mm). Leaves are heart-shaped and have a toothed edge. Height up to 1m.
The leaves, if collected before the flowers appear, can be used as a green vegetable. The flowers can be added to salads. The large oval seed heads have a silvery translucence that makes them attractive for use in dried flower arrangements.
Flowers April to June. Seen growing on a hedge-bank along Moss Lane, Manley.
This plant is also known as Jack-by-the-Hedge and grows to between 20 and 100 cms in height. It is generally found in copses and the margins of open, moist woodland.
The plant gives off the smell of garlic when rubbed. It contains mustard oil (hence its name) and is an old medicinal plant. It can be eaten boiled as a vegetable and raw in salads.
It flowers April to June. The flower shown was seen growing at the edge of the hedgerow that runs along Chapel Lane, Mouldsworth.
Also known as the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ the greater stitchwort has pretty star-shaped flowers and grows in woodlands and along hedgerows and roadside verges. Flowers are 2 to 3 cm across and have deeply cleft petals. Grows up to 50 cm in height.
The plant’s seed capsules make a loud popping sound when ripe, which is why it is sometimes refried to as ‘popguns’ or ‘poppers’.
Flower from April to June. This plant seen growing on the roadside verge on Brine’s Brow Lane but also present on Old Lane.
Hawthorne or May is small tree or deciduous shrub which can reach a height of 30ft. This is the commoner of our two native species with masses of white flowers, with pink or purple anthers. The flowers have a strong smell and become pink as they fade. It is common in hedges, scrub and woodland margins.
It is widely used for hedging. It has many associated legends, including Christ’s crown of thorns, and in Normandy that a house protected by hawthorn will not be struck by lightning.
It contains an antispasmodic and sedative chemical compounds useful for heart conditions. The green leaf buds make a crunchy addition to spring salads and the ripe berries make a delicious jam.
It flowers April to June This specimen was found growing along Kelsall Road and it forms most of the hedgerows in the area.
This our commonest and only native broad-leaved garlic. Flowers are white and star-like in a broad umbel. Stems are leafless. Leaves are broad lanceolate and similar to those of the Lily of the Valley. Strongly scented and unmistakably so when carpeting woodlands in large numbers. Sometimes referred to colloquially as ‘stink bombs’ and ‘stinking onions’. Grows in damp woods and shady banks often in the company of bluebells.
Some places are named after the wild garlic such as Ramsbottom (Lancashire) and Ramsey Island (off Pembrokeshire).
The broad leaf-blades can be used in salads, stews and soups.
Flowers April to June. The photo was taken in Moss Lane. There are many more plants where Ashton brook crosses the footpath at the end of Stable Lane.
This rather dull, familiar plant is common throughout the UK. Flowers are blackish-brown at first but pale brown later. Leaves are long, lanceolate and have prominent ribs. Grows in fields, lawns, meadows, roadsides, waste ground, parks and sand dunes. It is a very hardy plant and can usually be found in any environment with soil.
The leaves of Ribwort Plantain have useful medicinal properties being an antihistamine, antioxidant and analgesic. Used as an antihistamine it is very effective at dealing with nettle stings and insect bites.
Flowers April to October.
This example was growing on the grass verge in Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth.
This beautiful plant has white, bell-shaped flowers with lime-green marks towards the tips of its petals. The flowers are typically 13-22mm in diameter. Leaves green. Grows to 60 cm. This is almost certainly a garden escape as the stalks appear to be untoothed (unlike the native plant). Likes wet meadows and copses.
Flowers April to May. The plant pictured was seen growing in a hedgerow in Well Lane.
This fragrant garden edging plant is now seen increasingly in the wild. It is a low, short annual that grows to 30 cm. Flowers are small and white, occasionally pale purple. Leaves are not toothed, not stalked and linear-lanceolate. As its scientific name (lobularia maritima) implies it is often found on sandy ground by the sea. Away from the coast it is found on waste ground.
The petals, leaves, and tender stems of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked.
Flowers April to September.
This example was seen growing on the grassy verge in the Mouldsworth station car park. Probably a garden escape.
This is an erect, little branched, medium high perennial and the only Comfrey with pure white flowers. The roughly hairy stem leaves are more rounded than other comfreys, variably stalked and never running down the stem. It is a plant of well-established hedgerows and waysides.
The Latin name Symphytum (from the Greek symphis, meaning growing together of bones, and phyton, a plant), referring to its ancient use for mending bones.
This is an early flowering Comfrey generally from April to May but a little earlier this year. This example was found growing in Longley Lane.
This is a pretty woodland wildflower that has delicate white flowers that have fine mauve veins. It is the commonest and only native wood-sorrel. Leaves are green, trifoliate and shamrock-like. Grows in woodland, on hedgerows, banks and in other moist, shaded habitats.
The plant acts as a weather vane in that the leaves fold up before and during rain and when it gets dark. The plant is edible and has a citric and mild acidic taste (caused by oxalis acid – its scientific name being oxalis acetosella)
Flowers April to May. The flower pictured was growing in the woods above Brine’s Brow car park.
A sprawling low annual or short lived perennial that can grow to 60cms, but is usually smaller. The leaves end with a minute point which distinguishes it from the Lesser Trefoil with which it can easily be confused. As Lesser Trefoil grows all over locally as well. It likes bare ground or short grass and can be a particular nuisance in lawns.
Flowers April to October. This example is easily spotted growing on the top of the lower retaining wall at the Village Hall.
The yellow flower of the buttercup is familiar to us all whether growing in the hedgerow, in the meadow or perhaps even in the garden. And in Ashton there are actually 3 different types of buttercup to be found, the Meadow Buttercup, the Creeping Buttercup and, more unusually, the Bulbous Buttercup.
This can be immediately identified by looking at the underside of the flower where the green/brown sepals are turned down rather than clasping the flower as found in both the Meadow and Creeping Buttercups. The leaves are very similar to the Creeping Buttercup. The Bulbous Buttercup flowers from late March to May and so is very much a flower of the spring and in Ashton the Bulbous Buttercup can be found growing on the grassy bank across the road from the School.
This is the only common yellow buttercup with creeping and rooting runners. It is a low to medium perennial to 60cm but generally much shorter and often entirely prostrate. The leaves are triangular with three lobes the end one of which has a long stalk (see picture). It grows in damp places in woods, grassland and is an invasive weed of the garden. The Creeping Buttercup flowers from May until October and can be found throughout the area in damp grassy places.
This is the tallest and most graceful with glossy yellow flowers growing up to a metre high in grasslands and meadows. It can be readily told from other buttercups by the shape of its leaves that are deeply cut into three to seven lobes (see picture); and by the fact that it does not possess the runners of Creeping Buttercup.
Meadow Buttercups flower from April until October and can be found throughout the area although best seen blowing in the wind across the fields.
The leaves grow in a basal rosette formation and the bright yellow bell shaped flowers are found in clusters all facing to one side. It is frequently found on more open ground than the primrose, including open fields, meadows, coastal dunes and cliff tops. The plant suffered a decline due to changing agricultural practices throughout the 1970s and 1980s in Britain. It may therefore be rare locally, though where found it may be abundant. Additionally the seeds are now often included in wildflower seed mixes used to landscape motorway banks and similar civil engineering earthworks where the plants may be seen in dense stands.
Cowslips were traditionally picked on May Day to adorn garlands but also for other celebrations, such as weddings. Cowslips have also been called ‘St. Peter’s keys’ or ‘keys of heaven’ because the one-sided flower heads looked like a set of keys.
The plant was traditionally used to treat sleeping problems as it is said to have a sedative quality, as well as the flowers being used to help treat coughs. Cowslip leaves are used in Spanish cooking and have a slightly citrusy flavour. The flowers are traditionally used to flavour English country wine.
Flowers April to May.
These were photographed as escapees from a sown wildflower meadow at Peel Hall Park but can be also found at Spyhill Farm and in a garden wildflower meadow up Smithy Lane.
Also known as the Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, it truly lives up to its name: look for paired, rounded, green leaves with small, golden flowers set among them. The flowers themselves actually lack petals, but are surrounded by their golden sepals and yellowish leaves. This is a moisture-loving plant that is found in any habitat near damp or wet places, such as by the side of shady streams and in wet woodlands. It is a creeping perennial that forms mats of golden-green flowers.
It is the County Flower of Clackmannanshire, characteristic of the shaded, wooded glens cutting into the Ochils, such as Dollar Glen.
It flowers between April and June. This specimen was seen next to Ashton Brook at Spy Hill.
This member of the Pea Family is a familiar impenetrable thicket-forming sharply spiny shrub growing to 3m. The flowers are a rich golden yellow pea flower, almond scented with wings longer than the keel, and the joined sepals yellow with spreading hairs. The spines are furrowed and ferociously rigid and sharp. It grows in grassland, heaths, moors, scrub and open woods; and is widespread across the country.
In many parts of Britain, and especially In the South West where it is particularly prevalent on the moors, the expression “kissing’s out of fashion when the gorse is out of blossom” is a traditional jest as common gorse is thought to be always in bloom!
Gorse can flower throughout the year but is at its best from April to June This specimen was found growing at Wheeldon Copse in Manley but it can be found through the area.
A rather greyish, sparsely hairy, bushy, medium tall perennial to 85cms. Likes to grow on banks, near old walls / buildings or on disturbed ground.
The bright orange milk was a popular drug plant in Roman times but is extremely poisonous containing the alkaloid chelidonine.
Flowers April to October. This was growing in Gongar Lane between the stream and the railway bridge where it is quite profuse.
This plant is a well branched often straggling perennial to 50cms with yellow flowers where the inner bracts are tipped black. The leaves are glossy, hairless and pinnately lobed or deeply toothed. It is a well-established invasive plant of bare and waste ground. It first appeared as a wholly new species from a hybrid of two plants growing in Oxford Botanic Gardens around 1790, and subsequently “escaped” into Oxford and its Colleges and from there along the newly built railway lines to colonise many areas of the UK.
All parts of the plant contain alkaloids that are toxic to cattle, deer, pigs, horses and goats, causing liver damage, with death often occurring months after ingestion.
It flowers April to November and through mild winters. This plant is growing in Shay Lane.
The commonest Sow-thistle. It is a branched erect annual/biennial to 2m. It can be found in grassy and waste areas, path sides etc.
It flowers April to November. This example is easily spotted growing in the field entrance between Gladstone Barns and April Cottage on Church Road.
This is a plant of the Dead-nettle family and is a short, hairy patch forming perennial with erect flower stems to 30cm. The flowers are typical of the Dead-nettle family butter yellow with red-brown honeyguides. The leaves are dark green heart shaped with long stalks with conspicuous whitish blotches.
Yellow Archangel flowers from April until June. Originally a garden escape it is now well established and naturalised growing in woods and hedgerows, with this specimen found towards the bottom of Shay Lane.