Wildflowers – May

Green

Broad-Leaved Dock

Broad-leaved Dock

The sturdier of our two common docks with tall stems to 1m or more. It is a coarse tough plant as per the picture below but when you look closely at the flowers they show, as per the second picture below a more delicate structure. It grows in lowland grassland and disturbed ground, road verges and waste ground.

It flowers May to October This example was growing in the community pavilion field in the grassy areas behind the trees.

Pellitory of the Wall

Pellitory of the Wall

A spreading hairy herbaceous perennial to 50cms. The flowers are tiny and green followed by red brown fruits. It likes growing on rocks, stony waste ground, and old walls or at their base.

It has had several herbal uses. The young plant can be used as a salad ingredient, but be aware that it is a very active and early source of hayfever pollens.

Flowers May to October. This example was spotted growing outside the Golden Lion and further examples can be seen on the walls down Westend.

Pineappleweed

Pineappleweed

Pineappleweed is a member of the Mayweed family but it looks radically different. While all other Mayweeds have daisy-like flowers, Pineappleweed has just the central button-like (disc florets) part and none of the white ray florets found with other family members.

This is a dark green, hairless and strongly pineapple scented low annual; and like all other Mayweeds, the leaves are pinnate with thread-like segments. Pineappleweed grows from May to November in bare, disturbed and often well-trodden places. It can be found throughout Mouldsworth and Ashton with this fine example growing on the curb in Peel Crescent.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle

A tall tenacious patch forming perennial to 2m. A plant to avoid handling without gloves. The flowers are tiny and greenish. It likes shady places, including woods, field edges, road verges and around buildings, wherever there is rubble or litter, favouring soil rich in nitrogen. It flowers from May to September.

It is a key food plant for the caterpillars of peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies.

It was a valuable herb and has been used for many purposes including to provide thread for sewing, to make fine textiles as well as sail cloth and rope. Some claim it is superior to cotton for making velvet and plush. Its roots yield a yellow dye and the leaves yield a permanent green colour, used to dye woollens in Russia.

Nutritionally nettle is high in vitamins and minerals and have a long history as an animal feed additive and as a culinary plant, being used in the spring for salads, soups and as a spinach like vegetable. It has also been used to make nettle beer.

Stinging nettle has several medicinal properties as it is claimed to be astringent, anti-asthmatic and diuretic and suitable for a range of purposes. The below example was seen under the hedge on the pavilion playing field.

Pink

Common Bistort

Common Bistort

This plant is a medium unbranched perennial often growing in conspicuous patches. The pink flowers are in compact spikes with narrowly triangular leaves on long winged stalks. Bistort grows in damp grassland, open woods often near water.

In the north of England it was known as ‘Pudding Dock’ (or sometimes ‘Passion Dock’) because it was commonly used to create a traditional pudding around Eastertime, probably originating as a cleansing, bitter dish for Lent.

It flowers May to August. This example was growing in the verge of Old Lane, Mouldsworth.

French Cranesbill

French Cranesbill

This attractive plant is one of the large cranesbill family. It has pretty pinkish, five-petalled blooms with maroon veins which are formed like shallow cups. The leaves are large and deeply serrated.

The fruits resemble long beaks after which the Cranesbills are named. Grows to 60 cms in height. Flowers May to September. They are often found as an escape from cultivation and tend to become established on roadside verges.

Medicinally, when the leaves are made into an infusion the resulting tea can be used as a mouthwash to relieve mouth sores and bleeding gums and to stem nosebleeds. The flower pictured was found near the hedgerow along Manley Lane to the north-west of Mouldsworth and close to the old post office/shop.

Red Clover

Red Clover

The commonest pink or pink purple clover, but never red. Likes to grow in grassland or disturbed places.

It fixes nitrogen in to the soil and is often grown to enrich farmland and animal feed.

Flowers May to November. This example is easily spotted growing on the sandy bank by the footpath, 100metres beyond the village sign on the way to Mouldsworth.

White

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble, or Blackberry as more commonly known is one of the most familiar and variable wildflowers. A very tough prickly rambling to clambering, half-evergreen perennial to 4m. The flowers can be white or pink followed by dark purple fruit later in the year. It is broken down into various (up to 400) sub species which requires an expert to determine. It will grow virtually anywhere and once established is difficult to remove. In our area, it frequents hedgerows and woodland areas

The fruit is edible and collected by many including humans, birds and badgers. They are usually eaten raw, made into desserts or even an excellent wine.

It flowers May to November. This example is easily spotted growing near the footpath gate down past the Ashton Hayes Scout Hut.

Cleavers

Cleavers

A straggling annual, clambering over other vegetation in the hedgerows. Also known as Goosegrass. The tiny white flower is inconspicuous in small stalled clusters. It clings to animals and human clothing. It is a serious weed of hedges and disturbed ground.

As an herb, its roots yield a red dye and the seeds are said to make a palatable substitute for coffee. It has been used to treat skin problems and as a spring tonic.

It flowers May to September. It is found pervasively throughout the Ashton and Mouldsworth area.

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed

A pretty plant but one you do not want in your garden, except maybe in a hedgerow or wild area. It spreads by seeds and once established is hard to remove, as any fragment of root left will regrow rapidly. Each flower only has a short life but they are produced in profusion over a long period.

Mayweed

The Mayweeds are a group of white daisy-like flowers that grow on bare and disturbed ground including edges of pavements, gutters and field edges. They are very common all around Mouldsworth and Ashton and flower from May to November. 

Knowing you’re looking at a Mayweed is quite easy but knowing which one you’re looking at requires a little investigation! 

Identification The white flowers are held in a cup-like structure (and called bracts) at the top of the stem. Look at the flower from underneath, and if there is a brown edge to the bracts you’re looking at a Scentless Mayweed otherwise it’s a Scented Mayweed. Easy!!

Scented Mayweed

This Mayweed is short and hairless, and is usually aromatic growing up to 60cm high. The flowers are generally smaller than the Scentless Mayweed but otherwise are very similar.

It can be seen in Shay Lane.

Scentless Mayweed

Scentless Mayweed

The commonest Mayweed this plant is short and hairless, and not aromatic annual/biennial growing up to 60cm high. The leaves are pinnate with thread-like leaflets. It prefers bare and disturbed ground, including edges of pavements and gutters. This example was photographed in the field entrance on the left heading North along Church Road.

White Ramping Fumitory

White Ramping Fumitory

This is a very delicate plant with tiny leaves and tubular flowers, the latter being of a creamy white appearance, often tinged pink or pale pink and having blackish-pink tips. The plants grow as weeds in cultivated and waste places. They are capable of creeping up walls and hedge banks (hence the name “ramping”) and have weak, straggly stems up to 1 m long.

This species is much less widespread than the Common Fumitory and can be found mainly near the coast and some inland areas.

Whilst not edible, extracts from this species have been tested as a botanical drug for its gastro-intestinal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is reported that if the stems are broken they seep a white latex which is dangerous to eyes and capable of causing glaucoma.

Flowers May to September. The example shown was seen growing as a weed in a cultivated bed in a garden in Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth.

Yellow

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil

A common attractive low peaflower to 5cms, forming spreading carpets. Most flowers are yellow but can be orange with red buds. Hence, its folk name of eggs and bacon.

Flowers May to September. This example is easily spotted growing on the sandy bank by the footpath, 100metres beyond the village sign on the way to Mouldsworth.

Catsear

Catsear

A common short/medium perennial. Its flowers are carried on elongated stems above a basal rosette of leaves. It likes short turf or sparsely grassy places, including edges of pavements

It flowers May to October. This example was spotted growing on the sandy bank past the village sign heading towards Mouldsworth. It can also be found growing in Pentre Lane.

Leopardsbane

Leopardsbane

Yellow flowered perennial garden escape growing to 1m. It has distinctive heart-shaped leaves. 

 Leopardsbane flowers from May to July. This example was found in Grange Road growing some distance from any garden.

Silverweed

Silverweed

This plant is one of the Cinquefoil family and the only common yellow flowered plant with silvery pinnate leaves. It is a low prostrate perennial with long runners that often create a carpet covering of the ground. It grows in damp bare and sparsely grassy places, waysides and is common on sand dunes.

It is reputed to have astringent, anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. All parts of the plant contain tannin.

It flowers May to August. This example grows on Grange Road in the hollow beyond the fishery.