Starbotton in Wharfedale

It should be so easy. Just take a picture and look it up in the book later. I thought this was an Early Purple but the book says that that orchid has blotched leaves and this one definately didn’t. On the slopes of Moor End Fell above Starbotton in upper Wharfedale.


Horse Tails

Horse Tails has been described as a living fossil. It is the only surviving member of the class of plants known as Equisetopsida which dominated the forests 360 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. At a time when the dinosaurs still had to evolve Equisetopsida for 100 million years grew up to a height of 30m during which our coal deposits were laid down. In the lush undergrowth of Newton Woods it is easy to imagine these primeval forests in minature.

Horse Tails has deep rooted rhizomes and reproduce by spores. They have been used in a variety of medicinal recipes from the treatment of tuberculosis, wounds, bleeding and kidney disorders. Active ingredients are nicotine and silicon.

Elder Flowers

How wonderful to be with a DofE group today who were keen to understand and try out out edible wild plants. The small delicate flowers of the Elder were boiled up with sugar and a lemon flavoured drink powder (they didn’t have an orange or lemon). The elder flower water tasted good and hopefully will be a refreshing drink for the morrow.

Every district in Britain has a difference local name for the elder, perhaps the most widespread of our shrubs. Bour Tree, Borral, Bull Tree, Devil’s Wood, Dog Tree, Eller, Judas Tree, Scaw, Tea Tree and Trammon. But I like God’s Stinking Tree from Dorset the best.

May Blossom

In Nottingham in the early 60s I remember me mam saying “naer cast a clout till May is out” to me when I tried to go out in the Spring without my duffle coat or string vest. I thought, and I think me mam thought too, that “may” referred to the month of May but it really means the blossom of the May tree, one of many names for the Hawthorn. Other names are Whitethorn, Thornapple and Hawberry as well as the Faerie Tree since fairies live close by.

Indeed Hawthorn is steeped in folklore, being frequently associated with bad luck. To bring it into the house is sure to incur illness and death and a wedding while the May is blossoming does not bode well. This association with misfortune may be because Hawthorn was supposedly used for Jesus’s crown of thorns.

On the positive side 149 species of insect have been recorded as being supported by Hawthorn and the berries, the haws, are a rich source of food for birds. The tree can be very long lived with 700 year old specimens recorded.

Early Purple Orchids

The information board provided by the National Park says that Early Purple Orchids can be seen on the limestone meadows of Sulber Nick in the Ingleborough nature reserve. So I guess these must be Early Purple Orchids seen against a backdrop of Pen-y-Ghent, one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

They brightened up a trog up the motorway to Ingleborough in driving rain and low cloud but on the descent the cloud level rose and the sun came out and spirits picked up.


Marsh Marigolds

I came across some flowers today. The last thing I would of expected on a winter’s day. I think they are marsh marigolds which belong to the buttercup family. My book says they flower March to June. Marsh marigolds are said to be one of Britain’s most ancient native plants, pre-dating the last ice age. They seem to be quite healthy, growing in a spring in Slack’s Wood, Great Ayton. Though it’s not really a spring, more like just the outflow of Dikes Beck after it has flowed through the underground workings of the old whinstone quarry. Maybe this passage underground has raised the water temperature sufficiently high enough for the marigolds to flower.

Sea Aster, Findhorn Bay

Findhorn Bay, at low tide three square miles of salt marsh, an important feeding ground for waders and migrating birds. The flowers are Sea Aster, growing in profusion on the edges remaining dry at high tide. Apparently Sea Aster leaves supposed to be very flavoursome to eat (try frying in butter with garlic) but as Findhorn Bay is a nature reserve I didn’t pick any.

For map see here.