In the third and final blog of our mini-series about the wildflowers of South Stack, we take a look at Sea Campion and Kidney Vetch.
Sea Campion ( Silene vulgaris subsp. maritima)
Sea Campion is a perennial plant, growly mostly on cliff ledges, but it also grows on inland mountains. The campions are members of the carnation family. The narrow, grey-green leaves are arranged in pairs along the stem, and the leaves are fleshy which helps to prevent the plant from drying out in the wind. The flowers have deeply notched petals and it mostkly has one flower per stem. Sea Campion flowers between June and August.
Sea Campion used to be known as Dead Man's Bells or Devil's Hatties. Superstition surrounds the Sea Campion - it was said that because the flower grows on high, dangerous cliff ledges, it was never picked or brought into the house for fear of tempting death when trying to reach it.
Kidney Vetch ( Anthyllis vulneraria)
Kidney Vetch is an unusual member of the pea family, with flowers that vary widely through cream, yellow to a firey orange. Each flowerhead is surrounded at the base by thick, downy sepals which give the plant a wooly appearance. It flowers between June and September and grows in patches on dry grassland on cliff tops and rocky ledges, often on slopes. It prefers chalky soil, especially near the sea.
The flowers provide food for butterfly larvae, bees and beetles. It is a sole food source for the caterpillars of the small blue butterfly.
The latin name 'vulneraria' means 'wound healer'. It's common name is derived from a belief that it could cure kidney diseases, due to the kidney shape of the flowers.
Other names for Kidney Vetch include Ladie's Fingers, Lambs Toes, Butter Fingers, Double Pincushion and Woundwort.
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