Tag Archives: April Wild Flower

The Heart of Darkness?

pam0010Wild flowers don’t come much wilder than the Arum Lily.

The sap of Wild Arum is not just deadly, it is violently so. It burns and blisters, causes inflammation and swelling. It is so effective that nobody ever dies from consuming this deadly poison, they spit it out.

That said it is still one of the most reported causes of plant poisoning at hospital A&E’s. You know when you have ate it.

Here is Arum lying discretely amongst my salad leaves (Wild Garlic), be careful when you forage.

Pam0027Beautiful, isn’t it?

pam0022It is a flower that people can’t help noticing and so it is a flower with many names. Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo-pint, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls. These names are all references to human genitalia given because of the plants striking resemblance to the male and female parts.

pam0023Of course this was before the days of the internet when people didn’t have such a clear idea of what things actually looked like.

Such names bring to mind sniggering boys and giggling girls, good natured fun from a time of innocence.

Let’s have a closer look at The Adders Root.

pam0014What you are looking at is not actually the flower. The flowers are hidden deep inside. You are looking at a complex fly trap because it is flies that pollinate the Arum. The plant traps them and then it lets them go again that they may visit other flowers.

The brown central spike is called a spadix. It’s purpose is to produce a smell to attract flies that breed in dung. The spadix also produces heat raising the temperature by up to 15 degrees celsius. The green leaf like structure that surrounds the spadix is called the spathe. It’s purpose is to entrap the flies and drop them down to the flowers below. It secretes a slippery coating that the flies can’t grip and they slide down.

pam0015At the base of the spadix lies a complex arrangement of flowers, totally enclosed by the spathe and escape proofed.

pam0016At the top of the trap there is a cluster of hairs derived from sterile male flowers. It’s purpose is simply to block the flies escape. When the plant has finished with the flies these hairs will wither releasing them to take pollen to another Arum that will put them in a new trap and use them just the same.

pam0017Beneath the trap hairs lie the pollen producing male flowers. They will dust the flies after they have pollinated the flowers below and before they are released.

pam0018The important seed producing female flowers sit at the bottom of the trap welcoming the flies with their fresh pollen. These flowers will become the spike of bright red berries  that remain when the spathe and the rest of the spadix have withered.

pam0019These berries are extremely poisonous and I have read that just one berry might be enough to kill a child. Take care and educate them.

PAM0003When to see Wild Arum:

The leaves appear in February. Large and glossy and distinctively arrow shaped it is good to familiarise yourself with these. For quite a while this is all that you will see of the plant.


pam0021The fly trap doesn’t appear until late in April and when it does it is quite short lived. You should find these in late April and May.



pam0026Once the seed is set the spathe withers and the leaves die.  All that is left is a spike of green berries. These slowly turn orange and then red. It is a fruit of the autumn.


PAM0002Where to see Wild Arum:

pam0008You will find it in the place your mother told you not to go.

pam0009If you go looking for it then think on what the term “Wild Flower” really means and make sure that you see it before it sees you.



Take care.

The Pin and the Thrum of it.

This is going to be a post about Primroses. I am writing about them because they are in flower, they are beautiful and useful and they are interesting.

1Primula vulgaris is unmistakeable. Each flower grows on a single stalk, it has five pastel yellow petals and some interesting things going on in the centre that we will talk about in a minute.

2They flower in February and go on into May. That makes them one of our first wild flowers to appear and a very welcome sight.

I don’t think that we have to spend too long on identification because everyone knows Primroses.

3So Primroses are edible and useful for the forager. The leaves are quite mild like lettuce and I usually pick a few just to balance the stronger herby flavours of wild food. The flowers are edible too.

A word of caution here. My children are grown up but I would be very cautious of teaching children that it is all right to eat flowers. It isn’t! Some of them are very poisonous.

4Anyway we have done this in another post. If you forage for primroses be sensible and only take a little, try and leave the area so that nobody would ever notice the difference.

Whatever you do DON’T TELL THE MICE!


Mice don’t have any respect for anything and they are very fond of Primroses. They don’t seem to bother with any of the other flowers but in the lane where I pick my primroses they have been devastated. They only eat the pastel part of the petal, they don’t seem to like the centres.

Let’s talk about the interesting centres now.

6Primrose flowers are hermaphrodite. That means that each flower has both male (Stamens) and female (Pistil) parts but each plant has a sexual bias and that is where the “Pin and the Thrum” come in.

In a Pin flower the pistil is prominent and the stamens are held back within the flower. From the outside it looks like this.

7If you look inside you can see that the stamens are there but they are just not showing.

7.1A Thrum flower is just the opposite.

8This time you can see that the pistil is retained inside the flower and the stamens are prominent.

8aEach plant has it’s own identity and all of the flowers on that plant will be the same. Fertilisation only occurs between a pin and a thrum even though all plants have both parts.

So that is Primroses, beautiful, useful and interesting.




Salad Pinks

Lady’s Smock is in flower. At first I only found one little flower hiding in a ditch.



It wasn’t long before I was finding them in drifts.


So this is a post about foraging for food in country lanes and more specifically it is about foraging for Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis).

It is okay to pick flowers for the table, there is even a code of practice laid out for would be foragers by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

Code of Conduct (Wild Flowers)

It basically says to be sensible, only take them when they are plentiful, only take a few, leave things looking as you found them.

You can’t uproot flowers and take them home with you.

Before we can forage for anything we have to be able to identify it. There are lots of poisonous plants and my approach has always been to make sure that I know what I am picking, I am not one for trying things out that I am not sure about. This flower is pretty easy to identify.

It is about eighteen inches tall with a head of small pink flowers.


Each flower has four, pale pink/lilac petals


The leaflets are long and narrow and they look like this.



Lady’s Smock is also called Cuckoo  Flower. It flowers from April until late June.

In folk lore Lady’s Smock is often associated with adders, for instance picking it is said to attract adders or that if you pick it you will be bitten by an adder. Such lore makes perfect sense, The flower’s habitat is perfect for adders and it flowers during the adders breeding season (Late April/early May) a time when these snakes are most easy to approach and most often seen because they are not so wary of people, they are focussed on the breeding.

The plant has a long history of medicinal use. It was once a very popular treatment for epilepsy at a time when epilepsy was regarded as a form of madness and cures were broadly based on the magical qualities of the plant. More sensibly it was seen as a good cure for scurvy and it probably was, it is very high in vitamin C, which is an excellent reason for putting it in your salad.


Okay Lady’s Smock is just a flavour, it is not the main course, it has a peppery flavour. I have heard it likened to Radish with a bit of a hot kick but I would say more like Rocket. I like it very much.

I have also collected Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Primrose (Primula vulgaris). I will write about them in other posts. It all makes for a nice little salad dish and it is all free. I hate buying and throwing out bags of salad when it is growing just down the lane.


Now I just have to jazz that up a little bit.


Every part of the Lady’s Smock is edible. I have left out the stems because I find them stringy but you can eat them. The  flowers are delicious.

I am having my salad with a roast chicken as I did this yesterday (Sunday) and I am serving it with mango sauce (Chicken gravy with a couple of spoonfuls of mango chutney stirred in) and roast potatoes.


Well that was yesterday and that has been eaten, it was the best Sunday roast ever. Fortunately I had a bag of leaves left over.


As I write this I am enjoying black coffee and a cold chicken sandwich with sweet pepper and weeds and it is the best sandwich that I have ever had in my life.


Until next time.