Saturday, 21 April 2012

Woodland wildflowers once more

The wind was a raw northerly - it brought tears to your eyes. Just the sort of weather for us to explore the delights of Binscarth and Gyre - it was 10 degrees warmer in the woodland.. Quite recently I've posted about the Hard Shield Fern, Hart's-tongue Fern, Salmonberry and Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage. Our recent visit on 14th April yielded a tremendous display of Wood Anenomes and Few-flowered Garlic in Binscarth and Butterbur and Dog's Mercury in Gyre.

Los Afficionados

Wood Anenomes

Few-flowered Garlic
A subtle green line as flower-head decoration

The Binscarth verges were heady with the incense of Garlic

Dog's Mercury at its only site in Orkney

Butterbur 'forest'
Butterbur is also known as Bog Rhubarb

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The locations for Anne's latest wetland plate....

You may find it fun to work out the setting for each of Anne's flowers. I hope I'm not spoiling it for anyone by giving the locations away.
Clockwise from the top left:
Soft Rush - North Mill, Eday
Sneezewort - Quoys, Graemsay
Marsh Ragwort - Loch of St Tredwell, Papa Westray
Yellow Flag - Boloquoy Mill, Sanday
Watercress - Burn of Lingro, St Ola
Marsh Bedstraw - Ring of Brodgar, from Sandwick

Monday, 9 April 2012

Wetland plate 3

Here's the next wetland plants plate.  Clockwise from top left the flowers are: Soft Rush, Sneezewort, Marsh Ragwort, Flag Iris, Watercress and Common Marsh Bedstraw......

Monday, 2 April 2012

Scurvy Grass

I noticed some clumps of Scurvy Grass in flower today at the Peedie Sea and on the roadside at Graemeshall in Holm. It's very much the early part of its season at the moment; it has a fairly drawn out flowering period but most flowers are over by mid July. Scurvygrass is complex and appears to be made up of a number of species yet to be resolved. In northern Scotland (and probably Orkney) there may be three species. The common form officinalis has large circular leaves about 3cm in diameter; a smaller form is scotica with leaves approx 1cm in diameter and the smallest with very small spade-shaped leaves is atlantica.

Peedie sea



And here is the draft text for the book

Scurvy Grass (Cochlearia officinalis)   Cabbage family
Height to 25cm; flowers April to July. Widespread and abundant in Orkney (28/28); easy to find.

An early bloomer, this perennial herb can be found in Orkney on salt marsh, seacliffs, rocky shores and cliff top turf – in fact almost anywhere influenced by salt spray. It’s fun looking for this plant away from the sea and it is surprising where it turns up. I’ve seen it in full flower growing at the base of a wall near the Coop on Pickaquoy Road, Kirkwall but it can be found in the heart of the county, as far from the sea as is possible in Orkney. It can also be found growing on mountains in Scotland and northern England – on Ben Lawers in Perthshire it grows at 1155m. Recently it has become a roadside colonist along salted roads especially in the southwest of England. With its shiny and glossy, deep green, kidney to heart-shaped leaves it is a very conspicuous plant and becomes even more obvious in seabird colonies where nutrient enrichment results in much larger leaves and plants. Less conspicuous than the leaves are the honey-scented flowers which range from the standard white to a delicate shade of violet. It is obvious that in Orkney there is a great variation in size, petal colour and leaf shape giving rise to many unconfirmed records of the two subspecies known as scotica and atlantica

The plant has high vitamin C content and its antiscorbutic properties are widely known. In Faroe the leaves were employed in the treatment of nutritional disorders and in coastal England it was used as a folk remedy to counter scurvy long before the voyages of the 16th century. In the mid 17th century there was a fashion for a morning drink of scurvy grass and it was commonly grown in the physic corner of the garden. Writing of his Shetland experiences in the 18th century Brand states “They (the Shetlanders) have much scurvy grass: God so ordering it in his wise Providence…that seeing the scurvy is the common disease of the country, they should have the remedy at hand”.