June at Belfairs

As it is 30 Days Wild, this month we are celebrating some of the Wildflowers at Belfairs

Buttercups

Perhaps some of the brightest flowers on show in July are the Buttercups. The name “Buttercup” is thought to come from a belief that Buttercups gave butter its colour- however cows do not actually tend to eat Buttercups as they are quite poisonous.

Here at Belfairs we have four species, but the two you are most likely to come across are Creeping Buttercup and Meadow Buttercup. Creeping Buttercup tends to have a more “creeping” habit, whereas Meadow Buttercup tends to be more erect. I think the easiest way to distinguish between these species is the shape of the leaf- Creeping Buttercup has a more triangular leaf shape, whereas Meadow Buttercup has a deeply cut, pentagonal shape.

Foxgloves

Like the Buttercups, Foxgloves are putting on a fantastically bright show through June, with striking spikes of spotty purple, pink and white flowers dotted around the woods. The generic name of Foxglove is Digitalis, deriving from the finger-like shape of the lovely tubular flowers. The common name “Foxglove” has a couple of possible roots: possibly originally “Folksglove”- the flowers looking like the fingers of gloves of the fairy “folk”; or possibly that fairies gave these flowers to foxes, who put them on their feet, enabling them to magically move around in silence to sneak up on chickens and sneak away from people. Either way, these magical flowers are one of my favourites.

Foxgloves

Red Campion

In addition to the Foxglove, Red Campion provides another dose of pink in the woods through the summer. Another common name for Red Campion is Adders’ Flower; perhaps due to a belief that its seeds were a remedy for snake bites.

The specific name for Red Campion is dioica due to the fact that this plant is dioecious- having separate male and female plants. Look carefully at the flowers; female flowers have 5 styles, whereas male flowers have 10 stamen.

Wood Sedge

Wood Sedge also has separate male and female flowers but, unlike Red Campion, both male and female flowers are found on the same plant- making this plant monoecious. The fact that both the male and female flowers are found on the same plant at the same time makes Wood Sedge simultaneously monoecious (some plants will have male and female flowers appear on the same plant at different times- called consecutively monoecious).

Wood Sedge

Wood Mellick

Another graminoid in flower at this time of year is my favourite grass in these woods; Wood Mellick. One of the key differences between grasses like Wood Mellick and Sedges like Wood Sedge is the fact that where sedges normally have separate male and female flowers, grasses normally have bisexual flowers (male and female parts within the same flower). Grasses and sedges tend to be wind pollinated. This means they are perhaps not as showy as the Buttercups, Foxgloves or Red Campions which have to attract insects. However, the beautiful, glossy brown, egg-shaped flowers of this vibrant green grass are a fabulous sight at Belfairs through the summer.

Wood Mellick