It won't be long until the wildflowers at South Stack are out, but in the meantime, have a read through this blog and find out more about the Lesser Celandine, Blackthorn and Scurvy grass.

Lesser Celandine ( Ranunculus Ficaria)

Flowering between March and May, a true harbinger of Spring, the Celandine is sometimes called the Spring Messenger. It is the first of the buttercups to appear and is easy to recognise with its bright, golden star - like flowers, which have up to 12 petals.It grows in moderately damp, open places and prefers the partial shade of deciduous woodland and hedgerows.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name Celandine comes from the Latin 'chelidonia' meaning 'swallow'. It was said that the flowers bloomed when the swallows returned and faded when they left.

There are also many references to the humble Celandine in literature. William Wordsworth and Edward Thomas were both inspired to write poems about the flower and it appears in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien and Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence.


Blackthorn  ( Prunus Spinosa)

A dense, thicket forming, spiny, deciduous shrub which is ideal for providing safe nesting sites for many birds such as blackbirds, sparrows and finches. Blackthorn is home to about 150 different species of insect. It is a food plant for the caterpillars of many different moth species, such as yellow-tailed moths, and for butterflies including the Black Hairstreak and the Brown Hairstreak.

Blackthorn grows in hedgerows, scrub, wood margins, cliff tops and on shingle beaches. The flowers often appear before the leaves as early as February. The wood from straight Blackthorn stems were traditionally used to make walking sticks because it is so dense and tough.

The fruit of the Blackthorn is the sloe berry. It is similar to a small damson or plum and is suitable for preserves. It is also used to make sloe gin. The expression 'sloe - eyed' used to describe a person with dark eyes comes from the colour of the fruit.


Scurvy Grass (Cochlearia Officinalis)

Scurvy Grass is part of the cabbage family Brassicaceae. It is most commonly found in coastal regions, on cliff tops and salt marshes. It has a high tolerance to salt and this enables it to avoid competiton from larger but less salt - tolerant plants. The four parted white flowers are in tight clusters above the stems that lengthen as the fruit develops.

Scurvy Grass was eaten by sailors suffering from Scurvy after long voyages as the leaves are rich in vitamin C. Scurvy occurs because of vitamin C deficiency and a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.

What is spread on roads in the winter to stop ice forming? Salt! That's why Scurvy Grass has colonised many inland areas where it did not formerly occur. The seeds get trapped in car wheels, transported, get washed off, then grow in the salt rich soil at the side of the road where other plants cannot survive!