Winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) is found in damp places such as hedgerows and woodlands where it forms large patches of heart or kidney-shaped leaves. Petasites is from the Greek petasos, a broad-brimmed hat worn by shepherds. Fragrans of course means fragrant. It has hairy stems and pretty star-shaped flowers that have a delightful vanilla scent, though only male flowers are produced in the UK. True heliotropes are in the borage family, winter heliotropes in the daisy family. Though heliotrope is also used to describe the colour ‘pink-purple‘
It was introduced, as an ornamental from the Mediterranean and North Africa and is now naturalised in lowland Britain though not frost resistant so very rarely found in the north of the country.
It is one of the earliest sources of nectar for insects, flowering in January through to March. I discovered these clumps in the hedgerow near Trencrom Hill.
My first wild flower of the year. And not one to introduce to the garden as apparently they spread at an alarming rate and are difficult to eradicate. They are pretty though.
White Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a pretty little wild flower with tiny, fragrant, white to rose, five petal flowers, forming flat-topped clusters. The foliage is equally pretty and delicate with long fern-like leaves.
Also known as: Common yarrow / nosebleed plant / old man’s pepper / devil’s nettle / sanguinary / milfoil / soldier’s woundwort / thousand-leaf / and thousand-seal and used historically to staunch blood from wounds as well as being used in many herbal remedies. The English name yarrow comes from the Saxon (Old English) word gearwe.
It attracts predatory wasps, ladybirds and hoverflies.
The British Black Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), or European Dark Honeybee, was common until the beginning of the 20th Century. Fully adapted for the cooler climate she was responsible for the pollination of the wild flowers you see in the British Isles today. Sadly a virus practically wiped the species out. I can’t be certain that this IS one of those descendants, but it does have a very dark bottom. Whether it is or it isn’t we need to do everything we can to encourage our bees.
(This month I want to see native wild flowers found in the hedgerows, woodlands, farmland, meadows, by the coast, up a mountain, on the heath and even in your own garden. Basically those plants that haven’t been planted, but occur naturally, although specifically planted wild flower meadows can be included. Wild flowers provide food for humans and wildlife and are usually hardy, resilient and well adapted to the climate and soils, and yes sadly often referred to as weeds.)
Red Valerian: (Centranthus rubra) is a woody-based perennial, sometimes grown as a biennial, with grey-green leaves and dense clusters of crimson, pink or white, slightly fragrant flowers from late spring to autumn.
Although sometimes grown as a garden plant it is usually found growing on walls, sea-cliffs, rocks and waste land and brownfield sites, especially near the coast. It can be difficult to eradicate as its roots are very long, and although very attractive it can cause substantial damage to walls.
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Please visit the sites in the comments to see what others are posting and thank you all once again for such a pleasurable month of photos from around the world.
This is the last week for wild flowers so please post your contributions soon. I actually think I could have carried this particular theme on for the rest of the year, but next Sunday we move on to June and The Essence of Summer – what does summer mean to you? Keep it within a garden / park environment, but this is your opportunity to share your favourite summer photos. This might be gardens, butterflies, bees, particular flowers, picnics or barbecues, or even children running around in the garden sprinkler or dipping their toes in a favourite fountain. No restriction on the type or style of photo.