Ecology

Wetland Plants

Ecology

Wetland Plants

Wetland Plants

Lady's Smock or Cuckoo flower

Cuckoo flower Cuckoo flower

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Cuckoo flower, so called, as it flowers at the same time of year as when the first cuckoos can be heard (i.e. early May). It goes by a number of other names, including Lady’s Smock as well as milkmaids. There is a lot of folklore and superstition associated with this plant and it was believed to bring bad luck if the flower was picked and brought indoors. On a more practical note, it is an important larval host plant and nectar source for the orange-tipped and green veined butterfly. You can often see the orange-tipped butterflies flitting around the flowers on a sunny day in early summer.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: dardamine pratensis

Devil’s-bit Scabious

Devil's bit scabious

Image © Pipe Green Trust

These purple pin-cushion flowers, can be seen amongst the wetland grasses and sedges from July-October. They are an important nectar source for late flying insects and its leaves are the sole food source for the caterpillars of the declining marsh fritillary butterfly. The “scabious” part of the name comes from the fact the plant was used to treat scabies, whilst the “devil’s bit” relates to the root of the plant; folklore tells us that the devil was cross about the healing properties of the root and so took a bite, which resulted in the small and dark root that the plant now has!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: succisa pratensis

Greater Bird’s-foot trefoil

Greater Bird’s-foot trefoil

Image © Pipe Green Trust

This plant is closely related to the common bird’s-foot trefoil, but as the name suggests, it is much larger and has darker and more luxuriant foliage. It also prefers to grow on much damper soil and so is usually found growing amongst the rush (as shown in this photo). Interestingly it is the only member of the legume (pea) family that can grow in such damp conditions. It has a similar yellow flower to the common bird’s-foot trefoil, and is an important nectar source for moths and butterflies.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Lotus pedunculatus

Greater Tussock Sedge

Greater Tussock Sedge

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Along the brook are huge clumps of this sedge, which can grow over a metre wide. It only grows in waterlogged soil and I think you will agree, is pretty impressive! The leaves are quite rough and form a dense cover, which is a fantastic hiding place for small mammals and amphibians.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Carex paniculata

Hemp Agrimony

Marsh Valerian

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Quite a tall plant with red stems and it has distinctive small frothy clusters of pink flowers and in fact is sometimes known as “raspberries and cream”. It flowers from July - September and you can usually see clumps of it flowering in between the rushes. The butterflies and other invertebrates love feeding on it!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Eupatorium cannabinum

Lesser Spearwort

Lesser Spearwort

Image © Pipe Green Trust

At first glance lesser spearwort maybe confused with buttercup and in fact they both belong to the same family (Ranunculus). Lesser spearwort however grows in much damper conditions, and usually grows where there is surface water. As such, it is often found on the Green in hollows where water accumulates for much of the year. It is called spearwort, as the leaves are pointed and spear-like.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: ranunculus flammula

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold Marsh Marigold

Image © Pipe Green Trust

This beautiful and striking plant has recently started to grow along the edge of Leomansley Brook, which is great news. It grows in large clumps and its big yellow flowers are very recognisable. It is also aptly named "kingcup" and belongs to the same family as buttercups. Seemingly it is thought to be one of our oldest plant as it was around before the last ice age!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Caltha palustris

Marsh Pennywort

Marsh Pennywort

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Marsh Pennywort grows quite prolifically in areas of the Green where there is shallow water. It is often overlooked, as it is a low growing plant, often only 3 inches high and tends to get smothered by the larger plants. However, the shiny, circular leaves are distinctive and when you look closely at the vegetation, you realise how much there is growing on the Green. The leaves are edible and seemingly very tasty!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Hydrocotyle vulgaris

Marsh Thistle

Marsh Thistle

Image © Pipe Green Trust

From June onwards, the wet side of the Green, takes on a purple haze, due to the marsh thistle flowering. These plants love damp ground and will grow to well over a metre tall. They are covered with spiky purple flowers, which the insects love and you will often find the flowers covered with solitary bees, butterflies and other insects (in this photo a skipper butterfly is feeding on the flowers). In late summer, when the flowers have turned to seed, flocks of goldfinch can be seen feeding on the seed heads - a lovely sight to watch!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Cirsium palustre

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Meadowsweet is often be found growing close to Leomansley Brook. Surprisingly, meadowsweet belongs to the rose family and in August produces large clusters of delicate creamy-white flowers. The plant has been used for centuries by herbalists, as the leaves give off a wholesome scent and the flowers have a sweet flavour. Meadowsweet has also long been used as a treatment for digestive disorders, where it is thought the tannins and salicylic acid (active compound of asprin) produced by the plant, work respectively to protect the digestive tract and reduces inflammation.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Filipendula ulmaria

Ragged Robin

Ragged Robin

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Whilst it was once a common flower of damp meadows, ragged robin has declined in the countryside due to habitat loss. It is therefore lovely to see swathes of ragged robin flowering amongst the rushes from June-August. Each flower petal is divided into four lobes and gives the pink flower its characteristic ragged appearance. It is an important nectar source for butterflies and bees.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Silene flos-cuculi

Rush

Rush

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Over the last 15 years, the Green has become a lot wetter and this means that the area covered by rush has markedly increased. Whilst there are four different types of rush growing on the Green, the two dominant species are the hard and the soft rush. They have tall rigid stems and provide cover for a myriad of invertebrates, frogs and other plant species. To name a few, spiders weave their webs across them, birds build their nests amongst then, and frogs live in between them!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Juncus inflexus

Southern Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Unlike the common spotted orchid and bee orchid, that grow on the Green, the southern marsh orchid is a much larger plant and prefers to grow in damp conditions (as the name suggests!). A large patch of approx 60 specimens was recently found growing in the wetland area and hopefully they will start to spread. The colour of the flowers vary from dark to light pink, and the lip of the flower is much more rounded than the common spotted orchid.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Dactylorhiza praetermissa

Water Figwort

Water Figwort

Image © Pipe Green Trust

There has been a substantial increase in the amount of water figwort, since the wet side of the Green has become even wetter. As its name suggests, water figwort likes damp conditions and grows to approx 1 metre tall. The stem of this statuesque plant is square-shaped which can aid in identifying the plant. It flowers from July to September, with quite small dark purple flowers, which are an important nectar source for bees and wasps. The leaves, in the past, have been used to treat wounds.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Scrophularia auriculata

Water Mint

Water Mint

Image © Pipe Green Trust

Water Mint grows in profusion along the margins of Leomansley Brook and can be easily identified by standing on it, as the crushed leaves give off a very minty smell! It has a purple/pink flower and is a good nectar source for a number of butterflies that are present on the Green (e.g. gatekeeper, holly blue, peacock).

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Mentha aquatica

Wild Angelica

Wild Angelica

Image © Pipe Green Trust

This is a very statuesque plant, which grows well over 1 metre tall. There are some patches of it on the Green, amongst the rush and near to the bridge. It belongs to the carrot family (Umbellifera) and has large umbrella-like clusters of white flowers, which are often tinged with pink. It flowers from July - September and the insects adore it!

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Angelica sylvestris

Yellow Flag Iris

Yellow Flag Iris

Image © Pipe Green Trust

This easily identifiable, water-loving plant grows in the shallow parts of Leomansley Brook. It can grow to over 1 metre tall and is characterised by its bright yellow flowers and sword-shaped leaves. The base of the iris can help protect small fish (sticklebacks etc) and other aquatic wildlife. The flag iris, however, does need controlling, as it can grow right across the brook and block the water flow.

For further information visit ukwildflowers.com — botanical name: Iris pseudacorus