England in the Springtime

Today I have just a couple of wild flowers and a couple of rather good selfies to show you but before we get to that…

My story starts yesterday on Sunday the first of March, Spring Eve.

There was a cold north westerly blowing and I could have stayed at home but, you know, the Dog needs a walk. We headed out along a woodland track and the trees gave us some relief from the bitter wind.

I wasn’t expecting to see much but this is where I have been coming to look for Primroses and this time there were signs of life.

PrimrosesThere were the first tiny flower buds showing and Iย thought, “At last, it is happening.”

Primrose BudI started to take some photographs.

Primrose BudThen a little message appeared on my screen, “Built in memory full.”


Fizz! You stupid, stupid dog, you have forgotten to remind me to put an SD card in the camera. What were you thinking of?

It had taken us thirty minutes to walk out there, what I had seen was captivating, there was no choice but to walk back to the farm, pick up a card and come back out.

By the time we got back the English weather had kicked in.

I should warn you that I use bad language in this next video (quite mildly) but you shouldn’t watch it if you are under twenty one.

That was yesterday and I missed the Eve of Spring. If, as a team we had a bit more fortitude then I still think that we could have got the pictures but I was outvoted.

So today I can show you what I failed to capture yesterday.

Yesterday there were no Primroses in flower and today I found two.

The first that I found was a pin.

Pin PrimroseThe second was a thrum.

Thrum PrimroseIf you don’t know about Pins and thrums then I wrote it all down on Easy Wildflowers and you can read it here The Primroseย it is a sexy story.

But that is not the thing. I have photographed thousands of Primroses, they are lovely and I am very pleased to see them.

I don’t believe that I had ever noticed before how very beautiful and unique the buds were. They have taken my breath away and also made my day, year, life complete. How could I have missed this?

Primrose buds

Primrose buds

Primrose buds

Primrose buds

Primrose budsThese are very much not the best shots that I will get. I am taking these pictures under very difficult conditions. I hope that they will give you an idea of what I am looking at ๐Ÿ™‚

The pup and I moved on, that happens when you throw the ball.

Further along this track I have been watching forย Tussilago farfara, the Coltsfoot. I found it today.




ColtsfootAgain, if you don’t know the story of this extraordinary little flower without leaves then you can find it on Easy Wildflowers here The Coltsfoot.

Some of you may be aware of my obsession with self portraiture and earlier in the day I had a go in the mud.


meI was quite pleased with the results but still felt that I could do better and then the hail started.

FizzMy idea was to stand my dog in the hailstorm and take a picture of myself reflected in her eyes.

She wasn’t overly supportive at first.

FizzSomebody call the Humane Society!

Shut up, you’ll be famous.

It kinda worked.

Self PortraitWell, that’s enough fun with animals, this is my flower post.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Senecio vulgaris, The Common Groundsel

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Groundsel might be a bit of a hard sell. It is not everybody’s first thought when choosing a favourite wild flower.

Regarded as a weed by many it is a wild flower native to the UK, I will show you how to identify it.

(It’s native range extends throughout Eurasia and North Africa and it is naturalised in many other places including North America)

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Common Groundsel is a member of the Asteraceae or Daisy family,

The flower head is made up of dozens of small disc florets (flowers) like the centre of a daisy, without the white “petals,”

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)The lack of ray florets (“petals”) helps to distinguish this species from it’s close relatives Heath Groundsel (S. syllvaticus) and Sticky Groundsel (S, viscous) ย which do have ray florets with the appearance of petals.

The flower head is contained within a cylinder of green bracts called an involucre. These are not sepals each individual flower inside the flower head has it’s own sepals.

There is a second outer ring of black tipped bracts at the base of the involucre,

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Inside the cylinder of bracts there is a dense cluster of small flowers. Each flower sits on top of an ovary which will become the seed. At the top of the ovary there are a series of fine white hairs these are the sepals and they will become the parachute that will carry the seed away. Through the centre of the sepals runs the long white tube that is the corolla of the flower (Coralla is a word that is used when the petals of a flower are fused together)The corolla opens out into a small flower with five yellow lobes.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)As each flower opens the ย style emerges. The style has two yellow lobes, this is the pollen receptive female part of the flower and it is connected through the corolla to the ovary. The flower also has five stamens, the male pollen producing part, these form a tube around the lower part of the style and as the style grows through them it collects pollen.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Common Grounsel is extremely self fertile. It can flower throughout a mild winter, when there are no pollinators about and still produce seed. The plant is very short lived (about five weeks) but in that time it can produce thousands of fertile seeds.

When the seeds are ripe the green bracts open to reveal the seed head.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Now the flowers that served to pollinate the fruit have done their job they will fall away from the seeds before the seeds disperse.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)As the corolla tubes fall away all that is left is the seed with the white sepals that now become the pappus or parachute to carry the seed away on the wind.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)The plants ability to produce thousands of seeds at any time of year coupled with it’s preference for disturbed ground make Groundsel a particular pest to gardeners.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)(Common Groundsel seedling)

However, whilst prolific the plant has a very shallow root system and is easily removed through weeding.

The shape of the leaves is best described with a photograph.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย  ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย  ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย The leaves can be quite smooth but they are often covered in long white hairs.

These hairs also often cover the stems beneath the flowers and they are often described as cobwebby, they do sometimes give the plant the appearance of being covered in cobwebs.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย  ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย  ย Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)ย The Latin Name Senecioย is derived from the word “Sinex” which means “Old man,” It is a reference to the wispy white hairs of the pappus.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)The common name Groundsel comes from the Old English “Grundeswylige” and means “To swallow the ground,” a reference to the plants ability to cover large areas, quickly.

Other common names include Common Butterweed and Ragwort.

In the UK at least Ragwort is a misnomer because that name belongs to another plant,ย Jacobaea vulgaris.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)(Common Ragwort)

Ragwort used to be known as Senecio jacobaea and the two plants are closely related. Common Groundsel contains some of the same alkaloids that make Ragwort poisonous to livestock.

Small quantities of Groundsel ingested over a period of time can cause irreversible liver damage.

However there are few reported cases of Groundsel poisoning in livestock, it is only really a threat when feed such as hay bales become contaminated.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)As a plant for wildlife Groundsel has some value. There are a few moth species that utilise it as a food plant including theย Flame Shoulderย (Ochropleura plecta) and the Cinnabar Mothย (Tyria jacobaeae). There are also several species of beetles and flies that eat it.

I suspect that these interactions are under reported given the known value of Common Ragwort and the very similar qualities of the two plants.

Small birds also eat the seeds which are very often available mid winter.

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order:ย Asterales

Family:ย Asteraceae

Genus:ย Senecio

Species: Senecio vulgaris

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)Wildflowers in the Springtime ๐Ÿ™‚

39 thoughts on “England in the Springtime”

  1. I love Fizz!! I give her first prize for cuteness! ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love that picture of you in her eyes ๐Ÿ™‚ There is something so magical and poetic about seeing oneself in someone else’s eyes. Yes, I know it is just science-stuff, but I love symbolism, like something ordinary reflecting something extraordinary. I also liked the videos, I pretended you said “blooming” in that video, it was more fitting to the post I felt ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Trini ๐Ÿ™‚ I do apologise for my use of language, it just slipped out. My frustration with the weather called for the strongest expletive in my vocabulary but you will be relieved to know that Fizz was well out of earshot. Bloomin’ would have been a much better word. I had to leave it in the video because I wanted to include me wiping my camera lens with a dirty tissue (for my photographer friends) and I don’t know how to bleep words out. Anyway if I had bleeped it you might have thought that I said something worse, it is better to be honest. Fizz sends her love ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. Hihihihihiihi ๐Ÿ˜€ yes, it is, after all, better to be honest ๐Ÿ™‚ You kind of reminded me of that Father Christmas who says Bloomin’ all the time in that video ๐Ÿ™‚ I am sending lots of love back to Fizz! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a phenomenal ability to make such a story out of a weed. When we were young there was a major infestation of Ragwort in East Gippsland and we had a little farm and a lot of chemicals were required to eliminate it. I am rather pleased we know better now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John ๐Ÿ™‚ We don’t get much Ragwort on the farm here but when the fields are being grown for feed I pull any that I see. I understand the wildlife value and it is a very important plant except in a field that is going to be fed to animals, plus it can spread very quickly if it is left to seed itself. I am in the middle of Horse country and there is a lot of local animosity toward Ragwort, I think it is not such a big problem to farm animals because most of them are slaughtered before they can get enough Ragwort in their system to notice but people keep Horses for a very long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a good thing I am slightly older than 21 so I could listen to the video. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not anything on there that would shock too many Australians. I think our culture wrote the Encyclopaedia of Bad Language! Love the accent and Fizz’s squeaky ball games and the self portraits. You do make the study of botany very interesting with your words and the pictures are lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jane ๐Ÿ™‚ I loved your Jungle post. What a fantastic collection of insects and spiders ๐Ÿ™‚ We don’t see many insects in the winter months and I am really looking forward to their return.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Colin. I’m glad you liked my little collection. There would have been many more if it weren’t for my interaction with the rattler ants. I do love my little critters. Unfortunately, I tend to bore most people with my passion. I’m looking forward to seeing your springtime pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos, I love the close up of Fizz and the flowers. It will be weeks before we start to see anything green sneaking out from under the snow. I’m afraid Fizz would be limited to the paths we clear with a snow blower for our dog. Thanks for the peek ahead,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dan ๐Ÿ™‚ It is great to see the flowers returning. It is still pretty cold here, we actually had a few flakes of snow earlier but we are promised warmer weather by the end of the week.


    1. Thank you Clare ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad to see the Primroses, they are so late here and everything else seems to be more or less on time. I shall start looking for violets now and Lent Lilies, they grow wild in woods not far from here.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a great shot of your reflection in her eyes. It’s good to hear you talk, and you sound young! The language wasn’t so bad; we don’t even recognize that as bad language here. Primroses growing in the ground….we only have them here as houseplants, since our winters are so cold and long. Beautiful little flowers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarasin ๐Ÿ™‚ I will have another go at putting a video on FB in a bit. I have Fizz using some language of her own as she tries to encourage me to come out and play.

      I had better put it here too for those who haven’t got FB.

      I love the comment “Primroses growing in the ground…” Yes they do ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lauren ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been waiting very impatiently to see these. They were out and I was photographing them in this exact same spot on the third of February last year. Never mind from now on there will be flowers in the lanes. Butterflies next ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that’s really lovely that you photographed them on the same day a year apart! You are right, we have all the other flowers to look forward to soon. I’m hoping for butterflies – but at the right time. We’ve had a few hibernating peacocks wake up during the winter in our sewing room. I managed to get one to go to sleep again, but the other I had to put in the pile of brushwood at the side of the hedgehog house because he just wouldn’t go back to sleep. Naughty butterfly! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The groundsel shares a lot with dandelions, they must be cousins! Love the dog-eye selfie, she looks like stern stuff, but I know she is a pushover. Primroses really are the prettiest flower harbingers of spring. And the swirled buds are so lovely. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us – it is a pleasure to learn about all that you explore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eliza ๐Ÿ™‚ Well Groundsel and Dandelions are from the same family (Asteraceae) so there is some resemblance. The Primrose buds are quite stunning, the sun is shining this morning and the wind has dropped a bit so I will try and have another go at them today ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the Primrose is lovely. I had to backtrack and click on your Blog on The Primrose and gained additional info.
    Your reflection in Fizz’s eye is remarkable. You are a photographer, a Botany instructor, (you make it fun to learn) and now…a beautiful salad with flowers from the Primrose.I spend enjoyable time here.
    Thanks for sharing the FB video of our Miss Fizz asking you to come play. Thank you for another great morning.
    We are due for more winter but we can escape via the computer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ettel ๐Ÿ™‚ That video is in the next post for those who didn’t see it here. We shall be having lot’s of salad greens in the spring, my favourites are very seasonal, Wild Garlic and Garlic Mustard. There are lots of other things that you can enjoy but for me these are the best and I wait all year for them. Our weather is getting better here, next week is supposed to be really nice. Spring will come your way soon.


  8. I am so ready for spring ยฐโ€ขโ—‹โ—โ–กโ˜†
    The only problem with that here in California is that once it warms it will stay that way for such a verrrrry long time. The drought will make it very difficult and no significant relief in sight. Sigh. ….but I do love the sunshine and the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jan ๐Ÿ™‚ A very long warm summer would suit us just fine but English summers are pretty predictable, ours will be temperate and it will rain more than we like but the rain does make the sunny days much more enjoyable.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your post makes me salivate for spring. Sadly it is still frigid here and our robins will be doomed if they return too early ;( Those selfies are really very clever. And paricularly the photo of Fizz reflects very eyely on you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol yes warm. It’s still cold in our part of Canada which is Southern Ontario, southwest of Toronto, about an hour by car on the highway. We are near London, Cambridge, Stratford, Paris and Waterloo. Our town was once called Berlin (now Kitchener). Just so you can get your bearings ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

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