Wildflowers – February

Green

Dog's Mercury

Dog’s Mercury

A common woodland plant that carpets the ground and grows to 40cms.Leaves are a darkish green, broad lanceolate and with toothed edges. Flowers are small, greenish, petal less and greenish yellow in colour. 

The ‘dog’ in its name refers to the plant being bad in the sense that it is highly toxic.

Flowers February to May.

This plant was seen growing at the edge of the footpath that connects Old Lane and Stable Lane and close to Ashton Brook.

Stinking Hellebore

Stinking Hellebore

A stout foetid perennial to 80cm. Flowers bell-shaped, bright yellow-green, purple edged in clusters. The leaves dark green, palmate. Usually found in woods and scrub on lime. Widely naturalised elsewhere.

Flowers February to April.

This was naturalised under a willow tree at Peel Hall Park. It probably is a garden escape from the past.

Violet

Sweet Violet

Sweet Violet

Our only fragrant violet. Its showy 5-petalled flowers are commonly a rich blue-violet colour but often appear white (see photos). The sepals have blunt tips. Its flowers provide nectar for butterflies in early spring. Leaves are heart-shaped, hairy and deep green in colour. Grows in woods, scrub and hedge banks.

Legend has it that a person can only smell sweet violets once, as they steal your sense of smell. This is untrue, but, it stems from the fact that sweet violets contain beta-ionone, a chemical which temporarily shuts off smell receptors.

Flowers February to May.  The specimens shown were growing near the old railway bridge in Well Lane.

White

Barren Strawberry

Barren Strawberry

This is a low hairy perennial growing to 15cm and can be confused with the Wild Strawberry. Overall it is shorter with gaps between the slightly notched white petals. The flowers appear above a rather bluish-green matt of veined trefoil leaves. It grows in woodland margins, scrubland and on dry hedge banks.

Flowers earlier in the year than strawberries, from February until May.

This specimen was seen growing on the bank on Old Lane near the top of Grange Road.

Cherry Plum

Cherry Plum

All too often confused with Blackthorn, but it starts to flower earlier, often with the leaves. Shrub or small tree to 8m, usually thorn less, the twigs green, shiny, hairless. Fruits globular, yellow or reddish, only in hotter summers found growing in hedgerows, woods and scrub.

Flowers February to April. The photograph was taken half way up Well Lane.

Three Cornered Garlic

Three Cornered Garlic

This is a short to medium tufted plant with 2 or 3 floppy leaves that are triangular in section. The flowers are white, bell shaped, 10 to 18mm long, drooping in a one sided umbel, the pointed sepals with a green mid vein on the back. This is a plant of damp and shaded habitats, woods, scrub, steam banks and hedgerows. It was established initially in Guernsey in 1849 and is now naturalised and increasingly abundant and widespread in milder areas of the UK. It can out compete many of our native plants and is therefore seen as something as a pest species.

All parts of the plant, from the bulb to the flowers, are edible fresh or cooked, with a leek-like leek flavour.

It flowers February to June. This was seen towards the bottom of Shay Lane in the damp and muddy edges.

Yellow

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

This low hairless perennial of the Buttercup family is one of the first heralds of spring. The flowers are solitary with glossy yellow petals often fading to a whitish hue. The leaves are long stalked, heart-shaped dark green often with dark or light patches. This is a plant of grassland, hedgerows, woods and bare ground.

The plant is poisonous if ingested raw and potentially fatal to grazing animals and livestock such as horses, cattle, and sheep. The plant is known as pilewort by some herbalists, because it has historically been used to treat piles. Lesser celandine is still recommended in several “current” herbal guides for treatment of haemorrhoids by applying an ointment of raw leaves as a cream or lanolin to the affected area.

Flowers February to May.

Lesser Celandine can be found throughout the area and this example was found growing on a sunny grassy bank at the bottom of The Meadows.