Thursday, 7 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'F'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'F' - Foxglove, Feverfew, Fritillary

Many wildflowers have found their way into gardens and my choices for 'F' are no exception.

Foxgloves in our garden
We get groups like this every year; we have never planted any (but have moved a few).

Foxgloves grow in forests, hedgerows and on waste ground throughout Britain.

Foxgloves by the side of a lake
Wild Foxgloves (Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nottinghamshire)
You should be aware that all parts of the foxglove are poisonous. However the drug digitalis is prepared from the dried leaves and is used in small amounts to treat certain heart ailments.

Local names for the foxglove include goblin's thimble, fairy fingers and elves' gloves.

Not all flowers are as attractive as the foxglove but one with daisy-like flowers is immediately identifiable by its pungent aroma that some say keeps the cats away.

Feverfew shrub herb
Even bees dislike the pungent smell; the leaves contain volatile oils with insecticidal properties. 

An old remedy for migraines, it was also used to soothe insect bites and bruising, The name feverfew is a corruption of fibrifuge - a substance that puts fever to flight. Medieval herbalists first brought the plant to Britain where it may be found at roadsides, on walls and in old churchyards.

The one in the photo has found its way into the garden of the Jolly Tanners pub in Staplefield, West Sussex.

     " And then I came to a field where the springing grass
       Was dulled by the hanging cups of fritillaries,

Snake's head fritillary
      Scarfed in dull purple, like Egyptian girls..."

Its distinctive chequerboard pattern gives it one of its oldest folk names of dicebox. You need to get on your knees and look up its skirt for the best effect. The pendulous flowers are like miniature lanterns.

A beautiful flower maybe, but the fritillary's bulbs are poisonous.


  • Foxgloves by the side of a lake - 14 July 2008, ex, by Bill Nicholls, CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Wild foxgloves, Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nottinghamshire, 18 June 2006, ex, Lynne Kirton - CC BY-SA 2.0 generic
  • Feverfew shrub herb in garden ot the Jolly Tanners public house, Staplefield, West Sussex - 4 July 2015, by Acabasi - CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Extract from poem "Fritillaries" by Victoria Sackville-West (1892-1962)


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - love all of these .. foxgloves are just wonderful to see in their majesty ... and Feverfew and Fritillary -

Wonderful to see 'our nature' here in your Wildflower posts .. cheers Hilary

alberta ross said...

Have all three in my garden - especially delighted with the Snakeshead as I have real trouble 'taming' it - but garden is so wild now it appears to have accepted it's home:)

Bill Nicholls said...

Get foxgloves in our garden as well and like you I never put them there

Kate Larkindale said...

I love foxgloves. The name alone is beautiful and that they're poisonous makes them all the more sneaky...

Joanne said...

Beautiful images. Now if only it would warm up here so I could see some out my window.
A to Z

Li said...

I never knew that those "baby daisies" that grew in our old backyard was actually feverfew! :) I might transplant some to the patch at the end of our yard where nothing grows.

Jo said...

Never heard of the Fritillary but what a pretty flower. Pity it's poisonous. I could have used some of that Feverfew during my bed bug fight I think. Maybe it would have persuaded them to go away and leave us alone.

Wendy said...

I love Foxglove and Feverfew. So pretty.