Thursday, 21 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'R'

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.

'R' - Red Dead-nettle, Ramsoms, Red Clover, Rape

Lamium purpureum
This plant, in earlier times, was one of the many treatments for 'king's evil', or scrofula - glandular tuberculosis.

Last year I discovered someone picking it to feed to their guinea pigs. I know it by the name of - 

Red dead-nettle
As its name implies it doesn't sting, but it can become a pernicious weed. Cut-leaved dead-nettle and henbit dead-nettle are very similar and you have to study their leaves to tell the difference. Henbit dead-nettle is a food favoured by chickens - hence its name.

If you were very observant you may have noticed a flower included in my photo of bluebells under 'B'.

It carpets woodland floors in damp places, but you would probably be first aware of it by its strong smell, especially when its leaves are crushed.

By its smell you would have no problem identifying it as wild garlic. The flowers are 6 - 15" high and often thousands are grouped together.

It was once call buckram's or bear's garlic and is referred to in an ancient proverb - "Eat leckes in lide (March) and ramsins in May. And all the year after physitians will play."

Whether this is better advice than eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away I don't know, but perhaps the garlic smell is so strong that no-one comes near you.

Ramsoms bulbs are too small for culinary use but its leaves can be used in cooking or in salads.

Clover is valuable for feeding sheep and cattle.

Red Clover
Red clover is important to bee keepers; its nectar attracts the bees - I've been trying for years without success to photograph a bumblebee on one. In some parts red clover is called bee bread.

It plays and important role in fixing nitrogen from the air via nodules on its roots which the plant can then absorb.

If you fly into the UK in early summer fields of yellow are a familiar sight.

Oil seed rape
As a consequence of fields like this rape plants are often seen by the roadside or waste places where seed has blown or been carried by birds.

  • Lamium purpureum - 28 April 2005, by BerndH - CC BY-SA 2,5 generic.


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Bee bread. I have to get some of that for my garden. Love those bees.

Stephanie Finnell said...

We have fields of canola sown by farmers here that looks very much like your Oil seed rape picture. It spreads in the ditches here so a bit invasive. Interesting blog theme:)
Stephanie Finnell
@randallbychance from
Katy Trail Creations
Stephanies Stuff

Kristin said...

Garlic does have anti-virus properties. We always used it for sore throats, along with gargling apple cider vinegar in water. I've heard that it helps combat the flu also.

Finding Eliza

Liz said...

The red dead nettles are out at the minute here, but go on through the summer. I didn't know what it was called! Great photo. Are you British, too? ~Liz

Bob Scotney said...

Liz - British from North Yorkshire

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - wonderful to see what you come up with each day ... love these and the snippets of lore ... Ransoms grow prolifically in churchyards - well they do in Cornwall!! Cheers Hilary

Bob Scotney said...

Hilary - I'm in Cornwall now at St Mawgan and have seen Ramsoms this morning - in a pub garden