A few thoughts on Plant Lore inspired by the wildflowers at Clonterbrook House

Some musings from Leader Frankie following the recent lovely Dawn Chorus and Breakfast BBQ outdoor meeting.

Wood Anemone

  • Named after the Greek God Anemos who sent flowers ahead of him in Spring
  • Aka wind flower/ smell-foxes (as have foxy smell).
  • Pheasants eat the flowers.
  • Leaves were used medicinally in poultices.


  • Aka witches thimble, crow-toes, ladies nightcap
  • Only found on land fringing the Atlantic
  • Bulbs were used to make glue and to make starch for rich people’s ruffs in Tudor times
  • Protected plants. If their leaves are crushed they die
  • Children were told not to pick them as protected by fairy magic
  • Loved by bees, butterflies and hover flies
  • In Language of Flowers they symbolise humility and everlasting love
  • Scientists exploring if plants can be used to cure cancer

Dog’s Mercury

  • A poisonous coloniser of ancient woodland
  • (Dog prefix means false or worthless. This plant resembles Good King Henry or English Mercury, a nutritious vegetable)
  • Smells like decaying meat
  • Some species of ground nesting birds are attracted to it
  • As are beetles, weevils, springtails and molluscs

Red Campion

  • Aka Robin Hood, adder’s flower
  • Male and female flowers are on separate plants
  • Liked by butterflies, bees and hover flies
  • Folklore says the plants protect fairies from being discovered and also guard bees’ stores of honey
  • Medicinally seeds were used to treat snakebites

Ground ivy

  • It likes damp, heavy soils
  • Leaves stay green all year
  • It has a faint minty smell
  • Before hops were introduced to Britain it was used in brewing ale to clear the beer and sharpen flavour
  • Medicinally it was mixed with honey to cure coughs

Ancient Woodland

  • Areas of woodland that have persisted since 1600s, relatively undisturbed but could have been managed
  • Covers only 2.5 % of UK
  • Wild Garlic and Primrose are also indicator plants