Barnwood Arboretum & Nature Reserve


Wildflower of the month July 2018 Lady's Bedstraw

Lady's bedstraw - Gallium verum

This delicate looking plant is a member of the Bedstraw family (Rubiaceae), which have whorls of leaves along the stem – which is usually four-angled; small white or yellow flowers in clusters (Panicle).
Lady’s Bedstraw has creeping stems with whorls of 8-12 narrow dark green leaves, the margins of these are rolled back (rather than flat like it’s cousins), rough above , paler and hairy below. Small golden yellow flowers, on leafy panicles, that are ‘honey scented’. It does sometimes hybridise with Hedge Bedstraw. In flower from June to August.
It has the scent of new-mown hay when dried and would have been included in straw mattresses – especially in beds used by women giving birth. The scent of the dried flowers is said to act as a flea repellent. Also, once used to add colour to Double Gloucester cheese.
Another name for this plant is Lady’s Tresses.
Other members of the bedstraw family are Cleavers or Goosegrass (Gallium aparine), Hedge Bedstraw (Gallium mollugo) and Wild Madder (Rubia peregrina). Coffee plants are also related to the Bedstraws.

Wildflower of the month June 2018 Yellow Rattle

Yellow Rattle – Rhinanthus minor
An intriguing plant – part of the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) that includes the likes of Speedwells (Veronica) and Foxgloves (Digitalis). Semi-parasitic on grasses and legumes, that is, it gains some of its nutrients from host plants but still photosynthesises. An important component of semi-natural grasslands as helps contain the more vigorous nature of some grasses, often allowing for more species-rich meadows.
Yellow Rattle has rough, sessile leaves (stalkless), that are lanceolate (lance shaped) with coarse blunt teeth, on black-spotted stems. Yellow flowers form on short spikes and are two-lipped – the upper lip is flattened with two short violet teeth and the lower lip is 3-lobed (divided but not completely separated). The calyx which consists of the sepals (outer set of leaf-like parts surrounding the petals) are very flattened, these turn brown and become inflated. In these the large seeds form and ‘Rattle’ hence the name of the plant. Flowers from May to August.
Other names for the plant are Hay Rattle, Rattlebaskets and Pots and Pans.

Wildflower of the month May 2018 Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley - Anthriscus sylvestris

A common plant found on most road verges, hedge banks and on woodland edges. Flowering from April to beginning of June.
A member of the ‘Umbellifers’ or Carrot Family (Apiaceae), who can mainly be identified by their flowers which form as an umbel – where the flowers are on stalks (pedicels) that all arise from the top of the main stem. With many of this family further rays arise from the end of these upon which the flowers form. At the base of the leaf-stalks are often sheaths that clasp the stem.
Quite easy to identify, Cow Parsley has fresh-green, fern-like leaves which are 2-3 times pinnate (known as a compound leaf)– where the leaf is divided into leaflets arranged along the stalk and these leaflets may also be divided into further leaflets, as in this case. The flowers are white with small leaf-like appendages at the base of the umbel called bracteoles. Stems and stalks are downy/hairy and hollow, without spots.
Another name for this plant is Queen Anne’s Lace with many explanations to it’s name such as to when she travelled the countryside in May where the roadsides were supposed to have been decorated for her; or that the leaves were said to resemble the lace patterns carried around by Queen Anne’s court ladies. Other interesting vernacular names are Grandpa’s pepper, Badman’s oatmeal or Rabbit meat. The term Cow Parsley is probably a reference to being an inferior version of real parsley.
It is related to the herb garden chervil and it’s young leaves can be mildly aromatic when crushed.
Similar species – Upright Hedge-parsley which has solid, rough stems; dull green, roughly hairy leaves and also has bracts (leaf-like appendages) at base of main umbel which are absent in Cow Parsley. Flowers July-August.

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