An introduction to one of our prettiest spring flowers – Greater Stitchwort

This pretty starry white springtime flower growing to calf height is often found thriving alongside red campion and bluebells on our woodland floors and grass verges.

Greater Stitchwort by Chris Prince

The plant’s name ‘Stitchwort’ refers to it ability to cure the pain associated with runners stitch. However there are many more documented medicinal properties of this wildflower throughout the history books. Other names include; ‘Popguns’ as its seeds fire off noisily when ripe, ‘Poor Man's Buttonhole’ and ‘Daddy's Shirt Buttons’ suggest it was once used as a buttonhole and names such as ‘Snapdragon’ and ‘Snapcrackers’ refers to the ease with which the stalk breaks.

In Cornish folklore, Greater Stitchwort was believed to belong to the pixies, the act of picking would cause lightening. Collecting the flowers was believed to anger them exceedingly – so much so they were likely to use their pixie magic to charm an adder snake into biting you hence its other colloquial name ‘Adders Spit’!

 Whilst this plant is intrinsically wrapped up in our culture from its medicinal, practical and magical properties let’s not forget what an important plant it is for our local fauna too. Greater stitchwort is visited by Honeybees, butterflies and hoverflies looking for spring nectar, and is the foodplant for many of our moths including the Yellow underwing moths.

 I particularly enjoy exploring Black Wood at this time of year as the wildflowers are beautiful.

Heathlands Reunited: This is part of a series of blogs introducing some of the fascinating nature we find on our heathlands. They'll all be featuring on our newly interpreted trail on the heath created as part of the Heathlands Reunited Project. This partnership project, led by the South Downs National Park Authority aims to restore and reconnect the precious heathland habitat across the National Park.