Signs of Spring 2

Here are three more woodland related plants you may come across on your daily exercise. As always please follow government rules and don’t travel to exercise and maintain a safe distance from others. Please search online to get better images of the plants.

Dog’s Mercury                                                  Primose                                                    Wood Anemone


Dog’s Mercury is a medium height woodland plant which is easily overlooked due to it’s small flowers but can cover large areas of ground. It is an Ancient Woodland indicator plant which means that it can be used to determine if a wood is long-established, so if seen in a hedge it can indicate that this was once part of a woodland. This is because it spreads due to underground rhizomes, horizontal underground stems,  so a large area of it shows the area was wooded for a long time even if the wood it developed in has now gone. It is known as Dog’s Mercury as Dog traditionally meant bad or not as good, so this was used to distinguish it from other members of the Mercury family as it is poisonous and therefore not as good. It also has an unpleasant decaying smell. All parts of it are poisonous and can induce vomiting, diarrhoea and even death. Despite this it’s leaves are a food source for some beetles, weevils and molluscs.

Primrose is a bright indicator of Spring and an early bloomer in woodlands. Many woodland flowers bloom early to take advantage of the Spring sunlight before the trees develop full leaves and the woodland floor is shaded. They are a nectar source for pollinators in particular Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. Traditionally they are a symbol of eternal love and in Irish folklore Primroses in the doorway protected from fairies which in traditional folklore are not the friendly folk we think of now!

Wood Anemone is another indicator of Ancient Woodland due to is slow growth. They can be seen covering the floor of old deciduous woodland and hedgerows. Hoverflies are thought to be particularly attracted to it and to be the main pollinator for it.  They are named after the Greek god Anemos who is said to send them ahead of him in Spring. The Romans considered it a lucky charm and would pick the first flowers to appear each year to ward off fever.

Signs of Spring 2
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