Spring has sprung and at this time of year you can watch as plants come to life. Woodlands with their mix of flowers, shrubs and trees are a particularly good place to see this. As the current government guidelines restrict movement and limit exercise to your local area not everyone is lucky enough to have woodlands near enough that they can walk to, although in Hyndburn there are a number of woodland sites that are near enough to the towns to be visited as part of an hours exercise. Even if you can’t get to a woodland signs of Spring can still be seen and many of these originate from woodlands. If you can walk along a hedgerow or even a grass verge you will see woodland plants. To start you off here are three plants that I have seen on my walks. I’ll be adding more in the coming days. The photos may not be the best so please look the plants up online to get better images!
Lesser Celandine Hawthorn Blackthorn
Lesser Celandine is an early Spring flower and very common in woodlands, hedgerows, meadows and verges it is a low growing plant with shiny yellow flowers with eight to twelve petals. As an early flower it is an important nectar source for queen bumblebees and other pollinators emerging from hibernation.
Hawthorn is a large shrub common in woodlands and hedges. One of the first trees to produce leaves it later develops white or sometimes pale pink blossom in May and then bright red fruits called Haws. It is a valuable food source for a wide range of insects, animals and birds. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars, the blossom is eaten by Dormice and provides nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators and the fruit is eaten by birds and small mammals. The young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw and were known as “Bread and Cheese”, the Haw fruits can be used to make teas, jellies and wines. Hawthorn is known to be good for the heart and was also an ancient symbol of fertility.
Blackthorn is another large common shrub found in woodlands and hedges. Unlike Hawthorn it produces it’s blossom before it’s leaves so at this time of year they can easily be told apart. This blossom provides an early source of pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators. As with Hawthorn it’s leaves are a food source for a range of caterpillars and insects. It’s blue black fruits are known as Sloes and as well as being a source of food for birds and small mammals are also used to make Sloe Gin. Traditionally syrups made of the bark, flowers and fruits were used to cleanse the blood and treat digestive complaints and rheumatism.