Friday, 27 June 2014

Jewels in the grass

As we walk around our various nature reserves and wild places admiring the vast diversity of flora and fauna that’s laid out in front of us how often do we take a closer look at some of the smaller wild flowers that grow low down in, and partly hidden by, the vegetation?

I spend quite a bit of my ‘walking time’ crawling and sometimes laying stretched out (no!…it’s not just an excuse for a rest!) searching for and photographing some of these little jewels, every one a delicate and beautiful example of natures art.

1 Jewels 1 Mouse ear
Mouse-ear Hawkweed (pilosella officinarum) A creeping perennial that often forms mats. The flowers are about 2-3cm across. May-Oct.

1 Jewels 3 Germ Speedwell
Germander Speedwell (veronica chamaedrys) A very common and widespread creeping perennial that often covers a large area. The flowers are 10-12mm across. April-June.

1 Jewels 4 R Hawkbit
Rough Hawkbit (leontodon hispidus) Perennial, grows on dry calcareous grassland. The golden yellow flowers, 20-30mm across, are born on solitary slender stems. June-October.

1 Jewels 6 Scar Pimp 
Scarlet Pimpernel (anagallis arvensis) Annual, low growing on cultivated and disturbed ground. The scarlet flowers are 10-15mm across and only fully open in bright sunlight. June-August.

1 Jewels 8 P Flax
Pale Flax (linum bienne) Found in dry grassland the lilac-blue flowers are12-18mm across. June- August.

1 Jewels 8a F Flax
Fairy Flax (linum catharticum) A small and delicate annual which is easily overlooked in the long grassland. Flowers 4-6mm across. May-September.

1 Jewels 9 Grass Vetchling 1

1 Jewels 10 Grass Vetchling 2
Grass Vetchling (lathyrus nissolia) My favourite wild flower at the moment, hence the two images. Another small flower that is easily overlooked, especially when in bud, but once in flower it shines like a little ruby in the long grass. Flowers 18mm long. May-July.  *The little black blob in the first image is a bug of some sort that I failed to notice was there when taking the photograph.

1 Jewels 11 C Vetch
Common Vetch (vicia sativa) A scrambling downy annual of grassland and hedgerows.Flowers 2-3cm long. April-October.

1 Jewels 14 L StitchW
Lesser Stitchwort (stellaris graminea) A perennial that grows in open woodland, meadows and along hedgerows. Flowers 5-15mm across. May-August.

1 Jewels 15 G StitchW
Greater Stitchwort (stellaria holostea) Found in the same habitat as it’s cousin above but is much taller at up to 50cm. April-June.

1 Jewels 16 C Marsh-bedstraw
Heath Bedstraw (galium saxatile) A dense mat forming plant found on heathland and along woodland rides on poor acid soils. The flowers are small at 3-5mm across. May-August.

Now two plants that are a little taller.

1 Jewels 17  Nipplewort
Nipplewort (lapsana communis) An upright annual that grows in cultivated and disturbed ground (my garden!) The flower heads are1-2cm across. July-October. *True fact!…It’s name is derived from the shape of the flower bud which is said to resemble the shape of a nipple!.

1 Jewels 18  Salad Burnet
Salad Burnet (sanguisorba minor) a perennial that grows to 35cm high on chalk grassland. If crushed it gives of a scent resembling that of cucumber. The flowers are tiny and form in dense clusters on rounded heads. May-September.

So, the next time you’re out walking take a little time for a closer look, maybe kneel down or even lay down…but be mindful that you’ve got to get up again!…and don’t worry about what other people are thinking as they walk by!…and see what little gems may be hiding low down in the grass, you never know you might just be surprised at what you find?