Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans)

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.

Winter Heliotrope, Alton, Callow Hill 26 December 2016

Winter Heliotrope, Alton, Callow Hill, 26 December 2016

Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica

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.

Sneezewort, Button Oak, 24 August 2016 ©Rosemary Wnnall

Rue-leaved Saxifrage Saxifraga tridactylites

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.

Rue-leaved Saxifrage, Bewdley quayside, 16 May 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Chrysosplenium oppositifolium

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.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Gladder Brook, 16 April 2015

 

Chaffweed (Centunculus minimus)

Chaffweed is one of the smallest flowering plants in Europe. Many of these annual flowering plants in Wyre are just 2cms tall. It can be found (by the observant!) growing in damp muddy places where there is little competition from other plants, so is often most easily spotted alongside forestry tracks and pathways. The leaves have a black border beneath and the fruits are like tiny apples as seen in the photograph.

Chaffweed (Centunculus minima), Wimperhill, 6th August 2013

Toothwort in flower

There is a lot of Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) in flower along Dowles valley at present. This plant is a member of the Broomrape family (Orobanchaceaea) whose members are total parasites on the roots of various plants. Toothwort is usually in association with Hazel and Elm. The plants contain no chlorophyl and the leaves are reduced to scales on the flower stem. Toothwort spreads with underground rhizomes and so many flowering spikes can often be found together. The flowers are usually white, but pink forms occur commonly. It is one of Wyre’s more unusual plants, and is a delight to see in the woodland in springtime!

Toothwort growing in the Dowles Valley, 28th April 2013