WILD FLOWERS IN HEDGES AND
Many of the following flowers are
also found on grassland, as well as on the hedge bank. The hedge bank is
included, as in intensively areas the bank it is the last repository of many
flowers due to fertiliser, pesticide and insecticide use.
SOME BOTANICAL WORDS:
Aliens introduced non-native
plants such as alexanders and montbretia
Calyx the outer floral
Sepal a leaf of the calyx,
exactly below the petals
The following is an
alphabetical listing of flowers that you may find in an Irish hedgerow!
ALEXANDERS (aliens) .Smyrnium
Yellowish-greenish flowers, a
member of the carrot family, common on roadsides in Fingal.
BIRDSFOOT TREFOIL Lotus
corniculatus 10-40cm high
It has flowers in stalked heads and
each leaf has three tiny leaves (leaflets) but then an extra pair of leaflets
close to the stem. The seedpods are arranged like the toes of a birds
foot. Trefoil means three-leaved.
BUSH VETCH (Vicia sepium)
It is 30-100cm high and climbs by
branched tendrils growing from the tips of the leaves. It has up to six blooms
on each flower-head and 5-9 pairs of tiny leaves. With its tendrils it can
climb over other plants, covering them with short spikes of pea-like flowers.
Bumbles bees love the nectar
CLEAVERS Galium aparine 15-120 cm
A tall bright green plant called
cleavers because the hooked hairs on the fruit stick or cleave to clothes and
animal hair. Geese love it and it is also called goose-grass. Hedge bedstraw is
a trailing plant with smoother stems.
COW PARSLEY Anthriscus sylvestris
60-10 cm high
These massed flowers cover
roadsides beside hedges in spring. The branches of flower-heads are hairless.
It is also called Queen Annes lace. Its leaves have few hairs and
unspotted stems. Its fruit is long, smooth and black. See also Rough chervil
and Hogweed which also have umbrella-shaped heads of flowers.
A wild perennial survives now on
some hedge banks but formerly on cow pastures. They thrive on lime soil. The
yellow flowers with sweet smell grow in clusters and droop. Traditionally you
made wine with the flowers.
DOG VIOLET (Violet
Seen in hedges but also in woods
and dry grassland. The flowers open at the top of leafy stems. Leaves are
heart-shaped and have hairless stalks. The name dog refers to the plant having
no scent. It grows from 2.5 to 20 cm.
DAISY Bellis perennis 20-60 cm
Lovely flower with pungent smell.
Has a flat rosette of leaves, spreading too close to the ground for animals or
mowers to cut. Its leaves are spoon-shaped, slightly toothed.
The flower heads are composed of up
to 200 petals which close when the weather is dull or at night. The leaves are
like lions teeth dent de lion in French. The white haired
fruits are like clocks and children play the game He loves me, he loves
me not.as they blow them away.
FIELD SCABIOUS Knautia
Grows from 25-100 cm. It has lots
of tiny lilac flowers in the flower-head and a button-like flower -head.. It
has hairy leaves undivided at the plant base but more and more divided going
upwards. The flower heads are lilac-blue and the outer flowers are larger than
the inner ones. The name comes from the famed power of the plant to cure skin
diseases like scabies. Caterpillars of several butterflies and moths love the
dull green leaves
There used to be a greater variety
in the Fingal area on many hedge banks but due to intensive agriculture, the
banks have been taken over to a great extent by rye grass.
QUAKING GRASS Briza media 20-50 cm
It has pyramid-shaped flower-heads
and shiny purplish spikelets. The spikelets are flat and oval, hung delicately
on thin stalks. This grass is of little use as fodder a it lacks foliage. Found
on dry grassy hedge banks as well as on grassland. It really trembles in the
wind, rather than quaking!
SWEET VERNAL GRASS Anthoxanthum
It gives out the attractive smell
of new-mown hay but is no longer grown for fodder as the chemical called
coumarin producing the smell gives grass a bitter taste. The flower-head is
like a spike with many short branches, turning from green to lilac to yellow.
The leaf sheaths or holders are bearded at the top.
FALSE OAT-GRASS Arrhenatherum
The flower-bearing spikelets of
this grass are like those on the true oat. But they stand erect on their stems
rather than hanging down as those of oats do. The spikelets make up a
sword-shaped green or purplish flower-head with densely clustered branches. The
leaves are wide, flat and rough with smooth stems.
COCKS FOOT Dactylis glomerata
The branching, one-sided
flower-heads of this grass look like a cocks foot. It is used as a
pasture and hay grass although it is tough and coarse. The green or purplish
spikelets of 2 to 5 flowers are in oval clusters, the lowest on a long stalk at
right angles to the stem. It has few stems.
GREATER STITCHWORT Stellaria
holostea 15-60 cm high
It has big star-like flowers seen
in spring. The petals are split halfway up and are longer than the sepals. Its
leaves are rough-edged and arranged in opposite pairs. The leaves have no stalk
and are narrow and pointed.
HARDHEADS Centaurea nigra 30-60
A grassland plant but found on
roadsides in arable areas. It is like a thistle with no prickles and gets its
name from the knob-like flower-heads. It has a hairy grooved stem and long,
stalked leaves near the base, which can be toothed. Also called
HERB ROBERT (Geranium
This plant has leaves with 3-5
lobes and the stems branch out from the base. In autumn the separate fern-like
leaves and hairy stems go bright red, that is why its Latin name comes from
ruber, as in ruby redder it may get its name from Robert, the Duke of Normandy.
The leaves smell like geranium when pressed together.
HOGWEED Heracleum sphondylium. A
member of the carrot family, Umbelliferae which borders many roads.
LESSER CELANDINE Ranunculus ficaria
6-15 cm high
One of the first spring flowers to
appear in damp banks near hedges. Each flower can have up to 12 petals which
fade to white The poet Wordsworth described it as shining bright as the
sun himself It has heart -shaped leaves on long stalks.
MEADOWSWEET Pilipendula ulmaria
60-120 mm high
It smells very sweet and is found
on many hedge banks. In medieval times the flowers were often scattered among
the rushes on the floors of tower houses to create a nice smell. The plant has
dense clusters of blossom at the end of tall, hairless, branching stems. The
name comes from mede-sweete, given to it by the Normans who used it to flavour
their honeyed wine, as consumed in Bunratty in Co. Clare.
OXE-EYE DAISY Leucanthemium vulgare
They have long white outer florets
and sparsely hairy unbranched stems with deeply divided leaves. Lovers used
play he loves me, he loves me not with them.
Grows up to 15 cm. It has single
flowers on hairy stalks. The leaves are hairless above and hairy below and
tapering gradually to the base. The flowers grow from the centre of a bunch of
wrinkled, toothed leaves Primroses produce two kinds of flower and seeds are
produced only when pollen is transferred from one to the other and that is why
it does not always prosper when transferred from the wild to your
QUEENS ANNS LACE Anthriscus
sylvestris. See cow parsley
RIBWORT PLANTAIN Plantago
lanceolata (7.5-45 cm)
The dark, long flower-head at the
tip of a furrowed (with lines on it) stem makes it easy to identify. The
flowers have 4 white sepals, each with a brown central point and 4 brownish
petals. The long stamens are either white or pale yellow. Greater plantain has
broad, nearly hairless leaves with pale green flower-heads.
ROSE-BAY WILLOW HERB OR FIREWEED
Chamaeneria angustifolium (alien)
Common plant on waste ground and
hedge banks. A tall perennial. The flowers grow loosely in a spike. The leaves
are pointed and willow-like and grow alternately up the main stem. It has only
recently colonised hedge banks. It thrives on ground where there has been
ROUGH CHERVIL Chaerophyllum
temulentum 30-90 cm
It is a summer plant and has
purple-spotted stem which is also coarsely hairy. It has a conspicuous swelling
where the leaf stalks join the stem. The flower-head is umbrella shaped and the
stems are also upright and purple-spotted.
STINGING NETTLE urtica
There is also the perennial nettle
called urtica dioica. Dioica means it is either male or female It has at least
27 different species of insects and is great for the tortoiseshell and peacock
THISTLE Cirsium arvense 30-152
The national emblem of Scotland. It
has a sweet musky odour attracting butterflies but a strong root system which
farmers do not like. The plants are either male or female so both must grow
beside each other for pollination. The flowers are purple and sit on spiny
bracts (like holders). The leaves are very prickly.
WHITE DEAD NETTLE Lamium album
Its large, open-mouthed flowers
attract nectar-seeking bumblebees in summer. The flowers are in a bunch round
the square hairy stems, which grow in big clumps. Its toothed, heart-shaped
leaves are like the stinging nettle but does not sting, as they are
WILD STRAWBERRY Fragaria vesca 5-30
Small but well flavoured. Its seeds
are scattered over the surface of the fruit. The plant has clusters of bright
green trefoil (three-leaved) leaves, hairy underneath. The flowers are white
and are on upright stalks with overlapping or touching petals.
WOOD AVENS OR HERB BENNET (Geum
It is 30-60 CM high and called
after St Benedict and in the Middle Ages was used to ward off evil spirits. It
is a short plant, with downy stems and deeply divided leaves with a large lobed
tiny leaf at the end. The flowers are small and widely spread, with a long,
hooked hairy style, which also can be seen on the fruit.
YARROW Achillea millefolium 15-45
The Greek warrior-hero Achilles was
supposed to have used yarrow to cleanse and heal wounds made by iron weapons.
It thrives on banks because of its deep, water-gathering roots. It has broad,
flat flower-heads and many dark green feathery leaves (millefolium means many