On a Wyre Forest Study Group walk along Dowles this week there were many signs of spring in spite of the cold temperatures. Wild Arum and Bluebell leaves were pushing up through the leaf litter, a few brave birds were singing and hazel catkins hung decorously from their twigs in glorious yellow.
The Bluebells were delightful in parts of Wyre this year. Many were in flower in the middle of April and they lasted right through May giving us some beautiful woodland scenes.
This persistent perennial may be found flowering between December and March. Unlike its near relative Butterbur, leaves are present during flowering, and persist throughout the winter. Winter Heliotrope, with its fragrant vanilla scent, is an introduced plant from North Africa, and it may be found on waste ground, along hedgerows, as well as on roadside verges as seen here.
It was good to find Sneezewort flowering in a meadow near Button Oak recently. We don’t find this plant growing very often around Wyre. It grows in damp grasslands. The smell of the flowers is supposed to make you sneeze, although it was the roots that used to be collected to treat toothache apparently.
This is the smallest of the stitchworts. It is a delicate plant which likes growing in acid grassland and heathy places. In many of our Wyre meadows it can be seen growing on the anthills of the Yellow Meadow Ant (Lasius flavus) as seen here.
Rusty-back Fern Asplenium ceterach was found recently on the walls at Hole Farm, near Bewdley, where it was growing close to Wall-rue Asplenium ruta-muraria. They were both associated with the mortar in the wall as they like a calcareous substrate.
This small inconspicuous plant grows along the quayside in Bewdley. It is only about 4cms tall and has 3 fingered leaf lobes from which it gets its latin name. It is an annual, flowering in April and May, and the white flowers have petals measuring only 2mm. The sticky leaves often have windblown seeds and hairs attached.
There are several places around the Wyre Forest where one might find small numbers of Wild Daffodils. These were seen recently along the northern edge of Eymore Wood where they spill out of the wood and into the adjoining field.
The woodlands and streamsides are burgeoning with new growth. The Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage is commonplace along streams and is flower now. The larger Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage is less common. Occasionally they may be seen growing together.
The Hard Shield Fern is seen here growing on the bank of Dowles Brook. It differs from the more commonly seen Soft Shield Fern by having stiff rigid leathery fronds, and sessile pinnules that run together.