Fergal KilkennyMary KellyRoss Millar
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Top Flowers to Spot this Spring – Part One

Posted on March 8, 2016 @ 3:13 PM in Walking

It won’t be long now until spring, already on a sunny evening, daylight lasts until after 6:30pm and the sun feels warmer- when it gets a chance to shine! We walk for many and varied reasons -fitness fanatics, talking walkers (or is it walking talkers) and walkers who want to see. Some of us know where we belong.  For 50 years or more, like many walkers, a love of nature and landscape has been an integral part of my walking; coastlines, woods, rivers, lakes and hills all provide different environments, always with something different around each corner.

I usually walk with Mid-Ulster Walking Club, but stops to examine plants or insects, organise and take photographs, gather equipment up, and starting off anew all takes time. A few interesting observations, and suddenly, you are a few hundred yards behind the main group. On a steep climb that always looks a long way! It wasn’t a problem once. It is now (no prizes for guessing the reason!) so I tend to walk more often on my own.

If you have even a passing interest in wild flowers seen on your walks, it is well worth spending a few pounds on a straightforward flower identification book. There are many to choose from, but one nicely produced and almost pocket sized volume is Harrap’s Wild Flowersby Simon Harrap with good photographs, clear descriptions and approximate distributions of most of the species you are likely to find.  Flowers have ‘their entrances and exits’-their seasons. Many spring flowers grow in woodland, taking advantage of energy from sunlight before the leaf canopy develops, so with this in mind let’s take an imaginary walk through the woods…

A few warm days in March and bright yellow and unmistakeable flowers of Lesser Celandine are the first to appear, livening up hedge-banks and woodland clearings. Have a look at the delicately marked leaves, too.

Lesser Celandine

At around the same time yellow Coltsfoot flowers appear, before the leaves and often in stony or uncultivated ground.  Coltsfoot is a tough little plant which can even push through tarmac. The felted leaves appear after flowering.

Coltsfoot

Near wet marshy ground and stream-sides, mid-April will provide showy chrome yellow flowers of Marsh Marigold, sometimes known as Bachelor’s Buttons.

Marsh Marigold
In early May, many shaded woodland tracks will have an edging carpet of with tiny yellow-green flowers. 

 Golden Saxifrage

Underneath Hazel trees you can find clumps of parasitic ghostly white-pink Toothwort flowers in April. Toothwort has no leaves and obtains nutrients from hazel roots. It is local in distribution and often missed as it flowers early in spring, preferring fairly shaded areas.

Toothwort

Wood Sorrel with felty green shamrock like leaves, carpets shady woodland floors and sometimes invades mossy tree trunks. Add its leaves to enliven a salad - not too many though, they contain tiny amounts of oxalic acid!

Wood Sorrel
Lords and Ladies is a member of the Arum family. Like many plants associated with folklore, it has several other names including Cuckoo Pint and Jack in the Pulpit. In autumn, it matures producing spikes of red berries.

Lords and Ladies
Pink Campion, can be forgiven for an untidy and straggly appearance, thanks to striking and almost ‘shocking pink’ flowers. This vibrant flower can be found along woodland edges during late May, usually in areas with neutral soils.

Pink campion

Read Top Sping Flowers to Spot - Part Two

Ronnie Irvine
Ronnie Irvine  Seasoned Hill Walker and UFRC Committee Member

A retired chemistry teacher and a hill-walker for more than 30 years, Ronnie has been on the UFRC Committee since shortly after retirement. He has a keen interest in Natural History and photography which he combines with his love of hill-walking. Having taken up web design on retirement he now runs his local walking club website www.midulsterwalkingclub.org.uk and his own photographic site www.ronniepics.co.uk as well as finding the time to be a walk volunteer ranger with Outdoor Recreation NI.

4 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Brenda Campbell on April 1, 2016 @ 5:00 PM

On a day when it has rained without respite, I enjoyed this easy stroll through the Spring flowers - even though I am at the dining room table! Best thanks to Ronnie for sharing his beautiful pictures and knowledge.

Posted by Ashley on April 2, 2016 @ 6:26 PM

A great post! It really does pay to look at the ground around your feet sometimes!

Posted by Mary on April 2, 2016 @ 7:47 PM

Thankyou for sharing your knowledge, I must try out the names to impress my fellow walkers ?

Posted by Daisy Russel on October 1, 2018 @ 3:35 PM

I love the top flowers during spring time!

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