Thorns and poison

Brenda writes: “Today I was mostly around home doing chores and paperwork and then in the evening I had a meeting at the church in Wells. As I headed off I was delighted to record my first hawthorn flowers in our own hedge.


We’re now in a period where there is an overlap as the blackthorn finishes flowering and hawthorn (sometimes called May) comes into flower. A reminder that the way to tell them apart is that blackthorn has flowers before leaves and hawthorn has leaves before flowers! Crossing the green I spied another new species, ribwort plantain. It has a whorl of leaves, like dandelion, which are long and narrow, deeply grooved and ending in a point. The flowers are on long stalks with a black ‘blob’ on the top, the actual flower being the tiny white dots on thin stalks radiating out from it. If you have ever tried to weed it out from your garden you will know that it has tuberous roots and propagates by sending out runners underground.

ribwort plantain

Yesterday I mentioned greater celandine, which is totally unrelated to lesser celandine. It is the first member of the poppy family to come into flower and grows up a particular wall in Wells near to the church.

greater celandine

You may remember that I’ve previously expressed my disappointment with the poor illustrations in the Collins flower guide, but I am still referencing the text which is rather technical but also sometimes gives more information about the plant. In this case I was not aware that greater celandine is an introduced species originally propagated for medical purposes, but the whole plant is ‘very poisonous’!”

New species for April 24th:
Flowers: hawthorn, ribwort plantain