Wildflowers – January

Blue

Common Field Speedwell

Common Field Speedwell

This low sprawling hairy annual has clear sky blue petals with darker veins and often with white lower petals. The flowers are solitary growing from the base of leaves which are pale green and more or less ovoid in shape. It grows on disturbed land often at fields’ edges.

This Speedwell is one of the most common of the Speedwells, an alien weed of cultivation and was first recorded in 1825.

The plant has been used to treat patients with heart trouble in the mid-20th century, and it is also used for snakebite treatment, haemorrhaging, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and as an expectorant.

Flowers January to December. It is common across the area and this example was found in lower Gongar Lane.

Pink

Danish Scurvy Grass

Danish Scurvy Grass

This slender annual/biennial is the earliest flowering scurvygrass, more or less prostrate to a maximum of 20cm. The small flowers are white or lilac around 5mm in diameter with stalked stem leaves the topmost ones of which are ivy-like. This is a plant originally of bare ground near the sea but has spread throughout the UK along our winter salted roads. It often provides a lilac haze to our central reservations on main roads and motorways.

It is high in vitamin C and was formerly used to prevent and cure scurvy, especially by sailors. The oil extracted from the leaves was reputed to be beneficial for rheumatism. Scurvy grass ale was a popular tonic in the past.

The Danish Scurvygrass flowers from late January onwards. This plant was recorded at the end of Kelsall Road near the by-pass.

Red Dead-Nettle

Red Dead-Nettle

A low erect/sprawling annual to 40cms, with a pink/purple flower. A familiar weed of cultivation.

Flowers January to December. This was at the edge of a field near Peel Hall. They are also very common on the banks in Smithy Lane from Ashton Brook towards the railway bridge.

White

Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed

A very common annual weed, prostrate and crawling to 50cms. Loves cultivated ground and bare places on rich soil. It seeds prolifically and is established around most of the world.

It has been used as a culinary plant since the Middle Ages. It can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable similar to Spinach. .However it has a high Saponin content and some authorities warn against eating it. Medicinally it is claimed to have soothing and cooling properties and has been used for poultices or as an ointment

It flowers January to December. This was found up Station Road.

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley

Much the commonest umbellifer of the spring hedgerow, often whitening roadsides.  A downy perennial to 1m or more. Grows on wood borders, hedge-banks and other shady places.

Flowers from January or even earlier.

This was seen growing in Smithy Lane just above the junction with Norton Lane.

Daisy

Daisy

 A low perennial to 10cms which prefers short grassland or preferably a well cut lawn. It can be found in flower virtually any time of year depending on the weather.

In the past it was claimed to have numerous medicinal properties chiefly for use on wounds, hence its alternative name of bruisewort. This example was photographed on the edge of pavilion paying field.

Yellow

Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot

A low erect perennial with white woolly purplish stems with many overlapping fleshy scales. The yellow flowers appear before the leaves and exhibit both disc and ray florets. The leaves are broadly heart-shaped, polygonal with white down. Coltsfoot can be confused with early flowering Dandelions but the latter have no disc florets and their leaves appear before the flowers. Coltsfoot grows on open scrubby land and along roadsides

Coltsfoot has been used in herbal medicine and has been consumed as a food product. Its leaves have been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or syrup) or externally (directly applied) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, locomotor system, viral infections, flu, colds, fever, rheumatism and gout.

It flowers January to April. These were seen high up Shay Lane.

Dandelion

Dandelion

The very variable, often large and coarse Dandelions of grassy fields, waysides and waste places. It consists of some 121 distinct species. The French name for dandelion is Pissenlit (as it is a diuretic), and the name dandelion comes from the French ‘dent de lion’ meaning “lion’s tooth” – because of the leaf shape. It is the bane of lawns where it flourishes in the short grass.

Used by Arab physicians in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the numerous curative properties are still recognised today. Rich in protein, sugar, vitamins, minerals and bitter principals, it is a wholesome food and an active medicinal herb. It is a diuretic, mild laxative, and a tonic. The young leaves are delicious in salads, the root, roasted and ground are a substitute for caffeine free coffee. The leaves and flowers can also be made into Dandelion wine.

Flowers January to December.

The photograph was taken on the footpath from Peel Hall Lane towards Peel Hall.

Groundsel

Groundsel

A very common annual of the daisy family that grows to 30 cm. Flowers comprise composites of yellow florets, typically 4-5 mm (usually unrayed) in loose clusters. The florets are mostly hidden by the bracts and give the flowers an appearance of not being fully open. Leaves are long, lobed and ragged and are stalked low down the stem, but unstalked further up the stem. The flowers turn fluffy and white as the plant seeds. Likes disturbed ground such as field edges, roadside verges and waste ground.

Reported as being toxic and capable of causing liver damage.

Flowers all year. The plant illustrated was growing near the footpath on Station Rd, Mouldsworth.

Hazel

Hazel

A tall shrub to 6m beloved for its ‘lambstail’ catkins. The catkins are yellow and male and the female flower is the brilliant tiny bright red style on the stem above. The plant is normally found with oak, scrub and in hedges.

The shrub produces an edible hazelnut much loved by squirrels.

Flowers January to March. This was amongst hedgerow plants up near Peel Hall.