Names, mythology, uses and folk-lore: A very large number of names have been devised for the foxglove. These include: bunny rabbit’s (mouth), witch’s thimble, ladies thimble, goose/cow/fox flops, virgin’s fingers, wild mercury and many, many more. The foxglove name is just that – the fox’s glove. It has also been given fairy associations.

In ...

Names, mythology, uses and folk-lore: A very large number of names have been devised for the foxglove. These include: bunny rabbit’s (mouth), witch’s thimble, ladies thimble, goose/cow/fox flops, virgin’s fingers, wild mercury and many, many more. The foxglove name is just that – the fox’s glove. It has also been given fairy associations.

In ...

 

EYEBRIGHT – Euphrasia officianalis: Scrophulariaceae family 

The plant: This is a plant which grows in undisturbed grassy areas. There are about thirty or more variants – but to the country walker the differences are of little importance. It is found throughout the country but is best described as locally common. Some types grow up ...

 

EYEBRIGHT – Euphrasia officianalis: Scrophulariaceae family 

The plant: This is a plant which grows in undisturbed grassy areas. There are about thirty or more variants – but to the country walker the differences are of little importance. It is found throughout the country but is best described as locally common. Some types grow up ...

YELLOW RATTLE – Rhinanthus minor – Scrophulariaceae family

The plant: This plant comes in all shapes and sizes - from a few centimetres to sixty or seventy. It is semi-parasitic, living especially on grass roots. As a result it is usually seen on grassland, but also in grassy woods. This flower was pictured in a field near the village of Snod’s ...

YELLOW RATTLE – Rhinanthus minor – Scrophulariaceae family

The plant: This plant comes in all shapes and sizes - from a few centimetres to sixty or seventy. It is semi-parasitic, living especially on grass roots. As a result it is usually seen on grassland, but also in grassy woods. This flower was pictured in a field near the village of Snod’s ...

IVY-LEAVED TOADFLAX – Cymbalaria muralis: Scruphulariaceae

The plant: The plant is seen throughout England and Wales, but less commonly in Scotland. Typically grows on rocks and garden walls, and on the sides of paths. It is a plant from Southern Europe and was probably introduced in to Britain in the seventeenth century. Grigson says that ...

IVY-LEAVED TOADFLAX – Cymbalaria muralis: Scruphulariaceae

The plant: The plant is seen throughout England and Wales, but less commonly in Scotland. Typically grows on rocks and garden walls, and on the sides of paths. It is a plant from Southern Europe and was probably introduced in to Britain in the seventeenth century. Grigson says that ...

BLOOD-DROP-EMLETS – Mimulus luteus: Scrophulariaceae   

The plant: usually seen by the side of streams and rivers, or in damp earth. The plants photographed were in Upper Teesdale at a height of about 400m and I have seen other large clusters on Cheviot in Northumberland at a height of about 500m. They are virtually absent in the ...

BLOOD-DROP-EMLETS – Mimulus luteus: Scrophulariaceae   

The plant: usually seen by the side of streams and rivers, or in damp earth. The plants photographed were in Upper Teesdale at a height of about 400m and I have seen other large clusters on Cheviot in Northumberland at a height of about 500m. They are virtually absent in the ...

MIMULUS

MONKEY FLOWER – Mimulus guttatus: Scrophulariaceae

The plant: likes its feet in water – seen by streams and in damp areas. Came to Europe from the Aleutian Islands between Alaska and Russia where the climate is pretty awful: it is cold and foggy and there are over 250 days of rain each year. Has adapted well to U.K. conditions and after ...

MIMULUS

MONKEY FLOWER – Mimulus guttatus: Scrophulariaceae

The plant: likes its feet in water – seen by streams and in damp areas. Came to Europe from the Aleutian Islands between Alaska and Russia where the climate is pretty awful: it is cold and foggy and there are over 250 days of rain each year. Has adapted well to U.K. conditions and after ...

BIRD’S-EYE PRIMROSE – Primula farinose: Primulaceae The plant: This lime-stone loving plant is rare and seen only in a few places in the North of England on open damp grasslands and heath. This plant was seen in a syke (small stream) in Upper Teesdale near Cow Green reservoir. Grows to about 10cm. Where seen it can be locally common. The plant ...

BIRD’S-EYE PRIMROSE – Primula farinose: Primulaceae The plant: This lime-stone loving plant is rare and seen only in a few places in the North of England on open damp grasslands and heath. This plant was seen in a syke (small stream) in Upper Teesdale near Cow Green reservoir. Grows to about 10cm. Where seen it can be locally common. The plant ...

PRIMROSE – Primula vulgaris: Primulaceae

The plant: a perennial plant of early spring. Grows to about 20cm, although often smaller. Seen in hedgerows, damp grassy areas (if shaded) and also in woodland areas and banksides such as railway cuttings. Grows well in lime-stone areas and is not so happy on acidic soils. Has been declining – possibly ...

PRIMROSE – Primula vulgaris: Primulaceae

The plant: a perennial plant of early spring. Grows to about 20cm, although often smaller. Seen in hedgerows, damp grassy areas (if shaded) and also in woodland areas and banksides such as railway cuttings. Grows well in lime-stone areas and is not so happy on acidic soils. Has been declining – possibly ...

COWSLIP – Primula veris: Primulaceae

The plant: Commonly seen in areas where primroses grow – hedgerows, embankments (especially old railways embankments), undisturbed meadows – particularly on chalky/limestone soils. There has been a decline in recent years, possibly due to the cutting of grass verges or over harvesting of the plants for wine. ...

COWSLIP – Primula veris: Primulaceae

The plant: Commonly seen in areas where primroses grow – hedgerows, embankments (especially old railways embankments), undisturbed meadows – particularly on chalky/limestone soils. There has been a decline in recent years, possibly due to the cutting of grass verges or over harvesting of the plants for wine. ...

SCARLET PIMPERNEL – Anagallis arvensis ssp arvensis: Primulaceae (creeping)

The plant: a hairless annual seen usually on disturbed ground although this plant was photographed in a sand dune area of Holy Island. Can form quite a spreading network.

The flowers: One cm in diameter, there are five petals which can be red, pinkish-orange and ...

SCARLET PIMPERNEL – Anagallis arvensis ssp arvensis: Primulaceae (creeping)

The plant: a hairless annual seen usually on disturbed ground although this plant was photographed in a sand dune area of Holy Island. Can form quite a spreading network.

The flowers: One cm in diameter, there are five petals which can be red, pinkish-orange and ...

OXLIP – FALSE: Primula veris x vulgaris: Primulaceae

The plant: created by cross pollination of cowslips and primrose by insects – it is a hybrid of these two. It is found where the cowslip and primrose are seen together although it is much less common than the parent plants.

The flowers: These are primrose like, about fifteen mm across and, ...

OXLIP – FALSE: Primula veris x vulgaris: Primulaceae

The plant: created by cross pollination of cowslips and primrose by insects – it is a hybrid of these two. It is found where the cowslip and primrose are seen together although it is much less common than the parent plants.

The flowers: These are primrose like, about fifteen mm across and, ...

Wood-sorrel – Oxalis acetosella: Oxalidaceae

The plant: This plant is a creeper essentially – but also a perennial. It grows in woodlands and hedges – especially where the land is damp and has been undisturbed for a very long time. I have seen it grow on the top of moss growing on old stones in Allandale and this plant was growing in the cleft of ...

Wood-sorrel – Oxalis acetosella: Oxalidaceae

The plant: This plant is a creeper essentially – but also a perennial. It grows in woodlands and hedges – especially where the land is damp and has been undisturbed for a very long time. I have seen it grow on the top of moss growing on old stones in Allandale and this plant was growing in the cleft of ...

PROCUMBENT YELLOW SORREL – Oxalis corniculata: Oxalidaceae

The plant: this is a small plant, creeping and hairy. Usually seen in dry bare areas – this specimen was photographed on a hard, stony track. It is usually a garden escapee – bit it is highly successful in escaping. Those I have seen are never more than about six or seven cm tall. The ...

PROCUMBENT YELLOW SORREL – Oxalis corniculata: Oxalidaceae

The plant: this is a small plant, creeping and hairy. Usually seen in dry bare areas – this specimen was photographed on a hard, stony track. It is usually a garden escapee – bit it is highly successful in escaping. Those I have seen are never more than about six or seven cm tall. The ...

FAIRY FLAX – Linum catharticum: Linaceae

The plant: A very delicate annual plant, growing no more than about ten cm tall. It grows on both dry and damp grasslands, especially where the soil is calcareous.

The flowers: are relatively small and usually about five mm in diameter. They appear at the ends of the stalks in loose clusters. The flowers ...

FAIRY FLAX – Linum catharticum: Linaceae

The plant: A very delicate annual plant, growing no more than about ten cm tall. It grows on both dry and damp grasslands, especially where the soil is calcareous.

The flowers: are relatively small and usually about five mm in diameter. They appear at the ends of the stalks in loose clusters. The flowers ...

Wood Sorrel

Wood-sorrel – Oxalis acetosella: Oxalidaceae

The plant: This plant is a creeper essentially – but also a perennial. It grows in woodlands and hedges – especially where the land is damp and has been undisturbed for a very long time. I have seen it grow on the top of moss growing on old stones in Allandale and this plant was growing in the cleft of a dead Hawthorn bush in Slitt Wood, Upper Weardale. Here it is demonstrating its saprophytic character – it can live on dead or dying organic material. It is found throughout Great Britain and is best described as locally common. Where it seems to thrive especially well is in areas of stable land which is calcareous or neutral. Usually less than 10cm in height.

The flower: The flowers are rarely more than 9 or 10mm in diameter and there are five white petals separate from one another and showing delicate lilac veins. Occasionally the plant has light pink flowers. The flowers are seen in April but can persist for a month or two. There is one flower per stalk. The flowers are hermaphrodite and can self-pollinate, but are also pollinated by bees and other insects

The leaves: These are trifoliate, green and recumbent: they fold down at night. They can be hairy and the hairs are clearly shown on the photograph. Each is on a stalk coming from the base of the plant. 

Names, mythology, uses and folklore: The plant has many colloquial names which include wood-sour and ladies’ clover. Hearts, cuckoo meat, cheese and bread, wild clover, crinche cranche (Welsh – but I can find no similar words in Welsh dictionaries!), sleeping beauty and sleeping clover. In some parts it is known as the Alleluia flower for it appears at Easter when the word Alleluia re-appears in Church liturgy.

The leaves are eaten raw and are used as a food-stuff in their own right or as a way of “livening up” a green salad. The leaves have a high oxalic acid content which gives them a lemony taste – oxalic acid is a poison but a large quantity indeed would be needed to have any discernible effects. However, do take note of this. The flowers can be eaten raw as well – they make a good decoration for salads. It is also said to be especially good in fish sauces.

It has long had herbal properties: the plant has healing properties, including spiritual healing. Pliny recommended its use for “gastric conditions” but there are those who suggest that its oxalic acid content renders it no good for dyspeptic ailments. Pliny suggested that it could be used for even the most pestilential fevers. In the Hebrides it has been mixed in to a herb plaster for the treatment of scrofula (TB of the skin).

Not all botanists associate the plant with Christian liturgy and Christian spiritual healing. Lady Wilkinson describes its associations with Druidic practices and folk-lore – it is the Druids three-in-one mysterious secret. Where-ever Olwen, the Druid mother of Earth, trod, wood sorrel would grow in every footprint. Indeed some say that the plant has fairy associations and links with woodland elves.

Wood sorrel has also been displayed on British coins in association with Ceres, the ancient goddess of agriculture.

There is confusion over its association with St Patrick. Legends have it that Patrick, whoever he might have been, used the leaves as an aid in the teaching of the Christian Holy Trinity. It is claimed that this metaphor became the instrument of conversion for many Irish listeners to St Patrick’s teachings. There has also been confusion over the association of the trefoil leaf with the Irish shamrock emblem. Whatever might be said of it the plant has a delightful flower, extremely delicate in nature, and a welcome reminder that spring is either on the way or has arrived.