Friday, 8 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'G'

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.

'G' - Gorse, Groundsel, Garlic Mustard

The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is the father of modern systems of classifying plants and animals.

Gorse in full bloom
The sight of gorse in full flower on Putney Heath so affected him that he fell to his knees and thanked God for its loveliness.

Many a golfer, myself included, has been less complimentary when hitting a ball into the middle of gorse bushes. Its a safer to take a penalty drop rather than tackle this very prickly bush.

There is an old country saying that when gorse is out of bloom kissing is out of fashion. But don't worry because gorse can usually be found in flower somewhere at any time of the year despite the majority of flowers being produced in April and May.

If you have kept rabbits or caged birds there is a plant that can be picked to feed them. Really it is a weed,

The flower head develops many seeds, each with its own white hairy parachute which help it spread, carried by the wind.

Its Latin name 'senecio' is derived from 'senex', old man, because of the head of white hairs.

The favourite food plant of the caterpillars of the orange tip butterfly, which I wrote about for butterflies in the A-Z challenge last year, is one with heart-shaped leaves.

Garlic Mustard
The edges of the leaves have toothed edges. The leaves smell strongly of garlic when crushed.

The culinary uses of garlic mustard were first recorded as long ago as the 17th century when it was used to flavour fish. Today it has gone up market for use in gourmet spring salads.

It's another plant with a marvellous alternative name; in many parts of England it's known as Jack-by-the-hedge - so I could have included it under 'J'.

  • Whin/Gorse in full flower, Ayrshire, Scotland - 27 April 2005, by Rosse1954 (Roger Griffith)


Bill Nicholls said...

Lots of gorse coming out now but I never knew the name of Groundsel untill now, out rabbits use to love it. Have come across garlic mustard before now

Wendy said...

Hmm, Groundsel. That looks like something I keep pulling out of the yard at our lake house in the western part of the state. I don't see this plant where I live in the eastern side of Virginia.

Wandering Wren said...

Lovely to be back at my British roots, your posts are like a trip down memory lane, I had a little catch up and was especially happy to see Elderflower - love that cordial!
Happy weekend
Wren (littlewanderingwren)

Bish Denham said...

Not a very pretty name, gorse, for such a pretty flower! Here in Texas we have a similar weed to the groundsel, but I can't think of the name at the moment.

Guilie Castillo said...

Good point, Bob; wildflowers often go unnoticed—so undeservedly. These are gorgeous, and even though here in CuraƧao so very little grows (especially not wild), I'll look forward to learning more.

Thanks for the visit (and the beautiful comment) over at Life In Dogs; always a pleasure to find a fellow dog advocate :)

Karen S. said...

Wow, that Gorse is incredible! I wonder if we have it here, if we do I think I'll plant some. Google after this. Great picks for your A-Z post Bob.

Jo said...

Don't remember gorse being so lovely. I don't know the other two although I have heard of groundsel. The garlic mustard sounds as though it would be good.

Sharon Himsl said...

I wonder how easy it is to plant garlic mustard or if available in U.S.

Anonymous said...

Really informative post, thank you! Looking forward to your other posts :)

@LunaNoctis from There She Goes

Debbie D. said...

I'm not familiar with Gorse. What lovely, bright yellow flowers! Groundsel is fairly common here, at least, it looks like something I see often.