Wildflowers – June

Blue

Field Scabious

Field Scabious

A medium tall hairy fairly stout perennial to 1m. It is also known as Blue Buttons due to the shape of the flowers. Likes dry grassy or cultivated places.

It was reputedly used as a remedy for leprosy, but was best known for helping to remove freckles, pimples, dandruff etc.

Flowers June to October.

This was growing in a meadow at Peel Hall Park.

Meadow Cranesbill

Meadow Cranesbill

A handsome tall perennial to 1m. It likes grassland on limey soil.

Flowers June to September.

The below was growing in a meadow at Peel Hall Park.

Tufted Vetch

Tufted Vetch

The most conspicuous of the commoner vetches. It is a tall scrambling perennial to 2m. It likes scrub, woodland and rough grassland.

Flowers June to August.

It can be found growing in the verge towards the lower end of Smithy Lane.

Green

Fat Hen

Fat Hen

A well branched erect annual wildflower to 1.5m with tiny green flowers. It likes cultivated and disturbed ground, or in the below case, debris at the base of a wall.

In the past the plant was used to fatten poultry.

Flowers June to October. This example was spotted at the base of a wall down Westend.

Mauve

Common Knapweed

Common Knapweed

A medium branching perennial with very stiff ribbed stems to 1m. The flowers are brush like with pale brown bracts. It likes grassy places.

It was highly regarded as a wound herb, as a useful tonic and as a diuretic.

Flowers June to September.

This was growing near the junction of Smithy Lane and Well Lane in Mouldsworth.

Orange

Fox and Cubs

Fox-and-cubs

This is a species of Hawkweed, which is easily distinguishable from other Hawkweeds by its fiery orange coloured flowers (all other Hawkweeds having uniformly yellow flowers). The flowers (13-15mm) have paler centres and are densely clustered. Leaves are lanceolate (meaning narrowly oval and pointed) and arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant with a few up the stem. The whole plant (apart from the flower head) is covered in longish, usually dark, hairs. Grows to a height of 40cms.

Fox-and-cubs has many other common names including Tawny Hawkweed, Devil’s Paintbrush,

Orange Hawkweed and Grim-the-Collier (because the black hairs are reminiscent of a miner covered in coal dust).

It flowers June to September. This example was seen growing on the edge of the track that links Smithy Lane and Chapel Lane in Mouldsworth.

Long-Headed Poppy

Long-Headed Poppy

A hairy annual that loves arable or disturbed ground, self seeding themselves freely. They flower from May to August.

The juice and pollen can cause severe allergic reactions to the eyes. However it was used herbally to treat chest complaints, anxiety, insomnia etc. This example is easily spotted growing in the sandy soil near the new field entrance on the West side of Church Road between Gladstone Barns and April Cottage.

Pink

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

One of the UK’s most beautiful flowers only known from one locality in the area. It grows to about 25cms tall and the flowers mimic the rear of a small bumblebee visiting it. They rely on a symbiotic relationship with underground fungi for both food and water. They like areas where the grass and vegetation growth is weak as they are not strong growers.

In Mediterranean countries the bee orchid is fertilised by a certain type of bee which is lured into trying to ‘mate’ with the flowers. That species of bee is not found in the UK and it is believed therefore that in this country the orchid is self-pollinating. There are other British orchids whose flowers also, to a remarkable extent, resemble insects – such as the fly orchid and early spider orchid.  The only reported location in the area is in a lawn at Peel Hall Park, where they spontaneously appeared several years ago. Luckily the base rosette was spotted whilst cutting the grass and allowed to develop. They return every year, the number depending on the previous and current year’s weather.

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

The ‘English unofficial rose’ generally the commonest and most variable wild rose growing to 3m or more. It likes growing in hedges, scrub or woodland.

Roses were a political symbol during the Wars of the Roses. They have also been an emblem of silence, and were carved on the ceilings of banqueting rooms to remind guests that what said was not to be repeated.

Roses in general have many culinary flavouring use and also to make syrup from the hips.

It flowers June to July. This example was spotted growing in the hedgerow opposite Gladstone Barns in Church Road.

Foxglove

Foxglove

A common wildflower of the hedgerows and gardens which gently seeds itself around. Long used as a medicinal herb and the source of digitalis, a powerful heart drug.  It is much favoured by bees for its nectar. It grows in many places often preferring near trees. The below picture was taken on the right hand side of the main road heading North leaving Ashton Hayes.

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam

A non-native very invasive annual plant with thick ribbed stems to 2.5m. It spreads rapidly by seed and is difficult to control. An aggressive colonizer of waterways banks and waste ground.

Flowers June to October.

This was growing in Smithy Lane.

Knottgrass

Knotgrass

Knotgrass is a hairless annual growing up to a 1m in length though more often much shorter. The flowers are white, pink or reddish-pink. This is a plant of cultivated and other bare ground. 

It flowers from June until November.

This example was seen in Shay Lane.

Musk Mallow

Musk Mallow

A graceful medium tall perennial to 80cm with leaves deeply and narrowly cut. Flowers a distinctive rose pink followed by round flat fruits. The leaves if run through the hand, give off a faint musky smell in warm weather. Likes grassy places and open scrub.

The leaves and flowers were applied as poultices to wounds and an infusion was drunk to soothe coughs.

Flowers June to August.

It can be seen growing by the footpath in the hedgerow on the main road heading towards Kelsall.

Redleg

Redleg

A member of the Bistort family the Redleg is a weedy, almost hairless annual which can be erect (as in the photograph) or sprawling. Flowers are pink with the grain-like flowers overlapping along the stem. Leaves are a narrow oval shape tapering to a point at each end, usually with dark black/green blotches near their centres.  Stems are often reddish in colour – hence the plant’s name. Also known by several common names including Lady’s Thumb, Jesusplant and the oft-used Redshank.  Prefers damp ground and mud.

Lady’s Thumb is a medicinal plant. Native Americans used the leaves in treatments of stomach pains and poison ivy. They also rubbed the plant on their horses as an insect repellant. The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a nutritious leaf vegetable.

Flowers June to September.

The photograph was taken by the footpath that links Moss Lane and Sugar Lane in the Mouldsworth/Manley area.

Rosebay

Rosebay

This plant is a type of Willowherb and has long, narrow leaves (which resemble willow leaves) arranged spirally up the stem. It stands tall (up to about 1.5 m) and proud and is easily recognisable with its red-purple flowers which can be up to 30 cms in diameter. Its original rural habitat was clearings in woods, on heaths and on mountains. It has adapted to human activity and is aggressively spreading and should be kept out of the garden.

The plant, like other Willowherbs, has several medicinal qualities and can be used to improve digestion and relieve mouth ulcers and sore throats.

It flowers June to September.

This specimen was spotted growing in the verge on Well Lane, Mouldsworth.

Rose Campion

Rose Campion

This plant is a habitual garden escapee and can be found on dry, light soils. The beautiful flowers are a deep, cerise red, up to 3cm across and the petals are often bent back. The stems are a light grey colour. The flower shown was observed growing in the field behind the old Methodist chapel in Mouldsworth and close to the

footpath that links Chapel Lane and Smithy Lane.

Purple

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

A hairless-to-downy perennial with woody lower stems which scrambles over other plants. Grows to 2m or more. Flowers are small (10 – 15mm) and have distinctive bright purple petals and yellow stamens. Stalks are often purplish. Leaves are pointed and oval. Grows in both dry (woodlands, hedges) and damp places (marshes).

Bittersweet is a nightshade and therefore toxic and its bright red berries can cause serious illness.

Flowers June to September.

The specimen shown was seen in a hedge near the footpath that links Moss Lane and Sugar Lane in the Mouldsworth/Manley area.

Black Horehound

Black Horehound

A bushy straggly plant to 1m covered in small purple flowers. It has a disagreeably pungent smell.

It flowers June to September and likes rough ground or hedgerows in which it can rapidly spread.

Medicinally it was used as a stimulant and antispasmodic. This example is easily spotted growing under the hedgerow alongside the pavement from the new field entrance on the West side of Church Road and April Cottage.

Creeping Thistle

Creeping Thistle

One of our two commonest thistles, and the only one with fragrant pale purple flowers. It is an erect perennial to 2m with a creeping rootstock and prolific cottony seed heads. It likes grassy and waste places and can quickly become a nuisance due to its prolific seed production and spiny leaves.

They flower from June to October. This example is easily spotted growing in the sandy soil near the new field entrance on the West side of Church Road between Gladstone Barns and April Cottage.

Hedge Woundwort

Hedge Woundwort

A creeping erect plant to 1m which likes hedges banks and other shady places. Its  attractive flowers are small and it flowers from June to October. In the past it was used to dress wounds as it was claimed to have antiseptic properties. This specimen was found growing under the trees by the ditch opposite the Welcome to Ashton Hayes sign on the North of the village.

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort

This is a medium/tall (to 1m), downy plant with both creeping and erect stems. Flowers are pink-purple with sepals which are often maroon. Leaves are narrowly heart-shaped or ovate, the upper leaves being unstorked.  Likes damp places. It is closely related to the Hedge Woundwort and hybridises with it.

This wildflower has a long history of use in herbalism, and as its name implies it was used for dressing cuts and other wounds, and it is reputed to cure aching joints when made into an ointment and to have antispasmodic and sedative properties when taken internally. 

Flowers late June to September This example seen near the footpath that links Station Road and Smithy Lane in Mouldsworth.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

A conspicuous waterside perennial to 1.5 metres often forming large stands. It likes to be beside fresh water, fens, or marshes.

It was used by herbalists for treating bowel and skin problems. It has been found to have an antibiotic effect.

Flowers June to August.

This was growing at the edge of a pond at Peel Hall Park.

Self Heal

Self Heal

This creeping downy perennial is either very short or entirely prostrate growing in grassy often bare places. The tiny flowers are purple often no more than 12mm long growing in oblong or squarish heads

It flowers from June to October.

Self-heal is edible: the young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads; the plant in whole can be boiled and eaten; and the aerial parts of the plant can be powdered and brewed in a cold infusion.   One of their favourite habitats is in the lawns of Ashton and Mouldsworth growing alongside White Clover.    This example was seen in Brookside against a garden wall.

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle

Our commonest large flowered thistle. It is a tall stout biennial to 1.5m with spiny winged stems and prolific cottony seed heads. Its name is most apt due to its very sharp spines. It has a creeping rootstock and likes grassy and waste places and can quickly become a nuisance due to its prolific seed production and spiny stem and leaves.

They flower from June to October. This example was growing at the start of the track down to the Scout Hut from Peel Hall Lane.

Red

Red Valerian

Red Valerian

A bushy erect perennial to 80cms flowers usually dark pink but can be white. Flowers May to September. Often found on walls, cliffs and quarries, especially near the sea. It is frequently cultivated in gardens.

In some parts of Europe the leaves are eaten either boiled as a vegetable or added freshly chopped to salads This example is easily spotted growing in the entrance to the Community shop. It is common around the centre of the village in both gardens and naturalised.

White

Elderflower

Elderflower

A strong smelling small tree which grows in hedges, woods or scrub, favouring nitrogen rich ground. Often found near rabbit warrens as rabbits won’t eat it.

It flowers May to June.

It was much revered by the Druids as were white flowers in general. In medieval times elder was associated with magic and witchcraft.  By one tradition Judas was believed to have hanged himself from an elder tree and another is that the Calvary Cross was made from it.

The flowers make a good cordial and an excellent champagne (see River Cottage for a recipe). In addition its berries can be used to make elderberry wine. Medicinally, elder was considered beneficial in many ways from its bark yielding a black dye, its flowers being a gentle laxative, diuretic and anti-rheumatic and as an infusion for catarrh. The below example was seen on the footpath up to Peel Hall Park.

Enchanter's Nightshade

Enchanter’s Nightshade

This plant of woodland can grow to 60cm and the white flowers are often faintly tinged pink with notched petals. The downy leaves are shallowly toothed and scarcely heart-shaped.

Enchanter’s Nightshade is not related to the true Nightshade but is named from the Ancient Greek enchantress Circe. It was used to make love potions hence the name.

It flowers June to August. This example was found on the path between Old Lane and Stable Lane.

Feverfew

Feverfew

Feverfew is characterised by clusters of daisy-like flowers and yellow-green foliage. It grows up to 70 cms in height.

It is a traditional medicinal herb that has been used to treat fever, migraines and arthritis.

It flowers June to September. The flower shown was seen growing at the edge of the hedgerow that runs along Chapel Lane, Mouldsworth. It can also be seen along Church Road by a house wall.

Field Rose

Field Rose

One of the most distinctive wild rose with its central ‘style’ making a stout column longer than the surrounding ‘stamens’. The flower are always creamy white. It is a prickly scrambling deciduous scrub usually found in hedgerows with trailing stems to 2m.

Roses were a political symbol during the Wars of the Roses. They have also been an emblem of silence, and were carved on the ceilings of banqueting rooms to remind guests that what said was not to be repeated.

Roses in general have many culinary flavouring use and also to make syrup from the hips

It flowers June to August. This example was spotted growing in the hedgerow past the footpath gate down from the Ashton Hayes Scout Hut.

Ground Elder

Ground Elder

A hairless perennial and pestilential weed growing to between 40cms to 1m. It has a creeping habit spreading rapidly to form extensive patches smothering other plants. It likes shady places, waysides and all too often gardens. Once established it is difficult to eradicate as even small fragments of its extensive roots will regrow and weed killers struggle to be effective against it.

It flowers from June to August.

It was probably brought to the UK in the Middle Ages as a food plant as its young leaves can be picked in spring and cooked like spinach. It is also known as Herb Gerard as it was dedicated to St Gerard the patron saint of gout sufferers. The below example was seen at the bottom of Whitegate under a hedge.

Hogweed

Hogweed

The commonest tall wayside white umbellifer typically 1-2m tall with course broad leaves. It has no herbal use and indeed the juice in the stem can be an irritant. It has a strong presence and cannot easily be confused with any other plants. It can be seen in many of the hedgerows along the main road and the footpath down by the stream.

Marsh Bedstraw

Marsh Bedstraw

This moisture-loving plant is characterised by long, loose, spike-like clusters of tiny white flowers (2 – 4mm), the four petals of which are arranged cross-wise like a crucifer but joined at the base. Leaves are narrow and tend to be downward turning with 4 or 5 leaves in each whorl. The stems are rather weak. Grows to 1m. Likes wet grassy and marshy places, by ditches and ponds.

Flowers June to August.

This example was seen growing by a ditch close to the footpath that links Moss Lane and Sugar Lane in the Mouldsworth/Manley area.

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

A tall hairless perennial forming extensive stands to 1m or more. Meadowsweet has delicate, graceful, creamy-white flowers clustered close together in irregularly-branched flower-heads having a very strong, sweet smell. Meadowsweet has also been referred to as Queen of the Meadow, Pride of the Meadow, Meadow-wort, Meadow Queen, Lady of the Meadow, Dollof, Meadsweet, and Bridewort. It grows by fresh water, marshes, fens and damp woods.

It was one of the most popular strewing herbs in the past for its pervasive perfume. It was also used as an additive to beer. It had a number of medical uses and it is noted that it contains compounds similar to the active ingredients of aspirin.

It flowers June to September. This photograph was taken on Smithy Lane with the plant growing in the roadside ditch.

Nettle Leaved Bell Flower

Nettle Leaved Bell Flower

The nettle leaved bell flower has five sepals which are fused, erect and hairy and five petals which are fused into a bell that is hairy on the inside. The petals are violet/blue in colour but occasionally white (as in the example shown here). It is a perennial plant with one or more unbranched, often reddish, square-edged stems that are roughly hairy. The leaves grow alternately up the stems. The lower leaves are long-stalked and ovate with a heart-shaped base. The upper leaves have no stalks and are ovate or lanceolate, hairy with toothed margins. Grows to 80cm. Likes woods &, hedge banks especially on lime soils.

Flowers June to September.

The plant illustrated was found growing close to the track leading to Forest Stables off Smithy Lane in Mouldsworth. It is a possible garden escapee.

Tuberous Comfrey

Tuberous Comfrey

Comfreys are perennials with bell-shaped flowers. The stems and leaves are clothed with soft hairs. The flowers are initially tightly coiled but unfurl like a fan as they come into bloom.  Tuberous Comfrey has large, oval, rounded leaves, and clusters of drooping, tubular flowers that are a pale yellowish-cream or white colour. The plant is similar to the Common Comfrey but is distinguished by its smoother stem (the common variety, which also grows locally, has flanges running down the stem – referred to as “wings” by botanists).

Comfreys, once known as knitbone, have a long history of wound healing, particularly broken bones, torn muscles, sprains and aches. However, the plants should not be taken internally because they contain powerful, naturally occurring toxins (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that can cause liver damage and abdominal distress.

Flowers June to July.

This flower was found growing against a wall on the roadside verge in Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth.

White Clover

White Clover

One of our two commonest clovers, a low sprawling perennial with solid rooting stems. It is white with sometimes pinkish tinges and is scented.  It likes grassy places including our lawns, but is much appreciated as a source of nectar for bees and by cattle. It is both wild and also sown for fodder.

They flower from May to November. This example was from the protected Green Space on Church Road opposite the school.

White Stonecrop

White Stonecrop

A short evergreen perennial to 20cms with green to reddish stubby fleshy leaves. Flowers white with no pink tinge. It grows on walls, rocks and bare ground. Although it is a native plant, it is usually found as a garden escapee.

The old herbalists used the leaves and stalks as a cooling poultice for all kinds of inflammations. Culpepper called this the Small Houseleek and it used to be pickled for culinary use. It can also be used as a salad ingredient or cooked as a green vegetable. This example is easily spotted growing on the top of the lower retaining wall at the Village Hall.

Wild Carrot

Wild Carrot

The only common white umbellifer with conspicuous forked bracts fringing he underside of the flower. A hairy biennial with a pungent smell when crushed. Stems stiff and solid to 1.5m with feathery often grey / green leaves. The flowers are dull white with often a red / brown flower in the centre

Flowers June to September This was growing in a meadow at Peel Hall Park.

Yarrow

Yarrow

A downy, dark-green, aromatic perennial with creeping runners. The flowers which appear in late June / early July are white tinged pale or deeply pink with a flat umbel-like head. The leaves are long, narrow, and rather feathery 2-3 pinnate. Yarrow is found growing in grassland.

Yarrow is steeped in myth and legend; it is a plant that many cultures of the world have widely used and revered. It was named (Achilles millefolium) in honour of the Greek god Achilles; who according to legend, had course to widely employ this wound staunching herb on the battlefield.

Flowers June to December This specimen was seen at the end of Gongar Lane.

Yellow

Common Evening Primrose

Common Evening Primrose

This example is some 50cm tall and is growing beside a dead stem with old seedpods from last year. The flowers open and become fragrant at dusk, probably to attract moths to pollinate it.

It is a native of the Americas but quickly appears in recently cleared areas or in disturbed soils, and can be found in habitat types such as dunes, roadsides, railway embankments, and waste areas. They are often casual and are eventually out competed by other species.

Based on observations of evening primroses, a study discovered that within minutes of sensing the sound waves of nearby bee wings through flower petals, the concentration of the sugar in the plant’s nectar was increased by an average of 20 percent.

The Evening primrose plant has astringent and sedative properties. Also it has long been valued for its oil which contains a fatty acid that is used by the body to produce hormone like substances. This example is easily spotted growing in the sandy soil near the new field entrance on the West side of Church Road between Gladstone Barns and April Cottage.

Common Ragwort

Common Ragwort

A conspicuous medium /tall perennial to 1.5m with large flat yellow heads.

The plant is toxic to farm animals and horses, to which it can be deadly. However, it is a favourite food plant for the black and yellow caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth, which at times can be so numerous that they decimate the plants.

Flowers June to November.

This example was spotted growing by the Golden Lion. It is however common in the fields in the area.

Dark Mullein

Dark Mullein

This is a striking, erect, tall plant with brilliant sulphur-yellow flowers. The stems are comparatively slender but nevertheless stout and can rise to 1.5m or higher. The flowers, which can be up to 22mm in diameter, have five petals and orange anthers. The dark green leaves at the base of the stem are large but become smaller as they ascend the stem. It is the second most common of our native Mulleins (after the Great Mullein). The plant grows on waysides and open habitats on banks, usually on dry calcareous soils.

In the Middle Ages the Mullein was credited with considerable curative powers.  A decoction of the root was used for cramps and convulsions, and toothache also was supposed to yield to its power.

In more modern times infusions have been used internally in the treatment of various respiratory complaints including coughs, bronchitis, asthma and throat irritations. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowers in olive oil is used to treat earaches, sores, wounds and boils.

It flowers June to September. The example pictured was found growing wild in a garden on Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth.

Great Mullein

Great Mullein

Also known as Aaron’s rod, a striking plant to 2m with a scarcely branched or arranged like a candelabra. The flowers are sulphur yellow flowering in stages up the stem. The leaves and stem are woolly white.  Flowers from June to August.

The stalk of the plant was originally used to make candle wicks before cotton was used. It was also attributed with the power to drive away evil spirits.  It has been used medicinally in many countries for all sorts of chest complaints, sore throats and tonsillitis as well as for a wide variety of skin complaints. The plant has soothing and antiseptic properties. This fine example is growing in the hedge heading north out of Mouldsworth. It may be a naturalised escape from a garden. There is also one growing at the intersection of Duck Lane, Pentre Lane and Shay Lane in Ashton!

Lady's Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw

The only UK Bedstraw with yellow flowers. It is a sprawling short to medium perennial to 1m. Likes dry grassland, dunes and hedge banks.

The leaves smelling of new mown hay and were used to stuff mattresses. Was also known in the 16th century as cheese renning / rennet due to its ability to curdle milk and to give cheese a richer colour and flavour.  A red dye can be obtained from its roots and yellow from the flowers. It was also believed to stop bleeding and also as a treatment for epilepsy.

Flowers June to September.

This example was growing profusely in a meadow area at Peel Hall Park.

Nipplewort

Nipplewort

A rather shaggy perennial to 1m. It can be found in disturbed ground, often in half shade open woods and hedge banks.

It flowers June to October. This example was spotted growing in the field entrance between Gladstone Barns and April Cottage on Church Road.

Rough Sow-thistle

Rough Sow-thistle

A thistle-like plant with yellow flowers with hollow flower stems that exude a white latex when cut. The prickly leaves wrap around the stem and the part of the leaf clasping the stem (and known as the auricle) is round whereas the Smooth Sow-thistle has pointed auricle. This is a plant of disturbed ground, road verges and waste ground.

It flowers June to August. The example shown here was found in Grange Road.

Smooth Hawksbeard

Smooth Hawksbeard

Generally the commonest and smallest hawksbeard. Low, the stems often trailing along the ground.

Termed ‘smooth’ because it is the only one of the hawksbeard group that is hairless. The flowers are a bright yellow, the outer florets often reddish on the back, on slender stalks. Leaves usually lobed or toothed. Grows in grassy and waste places and on path-sides.

Flowers June to December.

This example seen on the footpath/track that links Station Road and Smithy Lane in Mouldsworth.

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

Grows in wet and marshy places to 1.5 metres. Easily recognised by its flowers and strap like leaves. Useful plant to grow at the edge of a pond.

These were photographed I the ditch near the village sign as you enter the North side of the village.