KILDARE WILDLIFE WATCH: Discovering an unexpected gem

Bog of Allen Nature Centre

Nuala Madigan

Reporter:

Nuala Madigan

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editor@leinsterleader.ie

KILDARE WILDLIFE WATCH: Discovering an unexpected gem

King Cup PICTURE: NUALA MADIGAN

Our communities have some wonderful wild spaces. Recently I visited the Liffey Linear Park in Newbridge. The variety of wildlife I encountered was fantastic — including this week’s wildlife species marsh marigold (Lus buí Bealtaine as Gaeilge).

You may also know this species, as I do, as king cup. This second name also identifies the family that this species belongs to, the buttercup family.

The marsh marigold in the Liffey Linear Park can be found growing in damp ground along the banks of the River Liffey, and in general you will find this plant growing in damp ground in woodlands, on fens, in ditches and at the edges of streams and ponds.

The marsh marigold flowers between April and July each year, and at this time of year its large bright yellow flowers make this wildflower shine bright amongst the green leaves of plants that produce their flowers later in the year.

This plant actually does not have petals. What at first glance appear to be petals are actually the plant’s sepals. In most flowers, the sepals are green and are found below the petal. In the case of marsh marigold the sepal is bright yellow and looks like a petal.

It is a relatively tall plant, with hollow stems supporting the flowers that can reach up to 80cm in height. Its green leaves are hairless, described as being kidney or heart shaped. I noticed when looking at the plant I came across that the leaves varied in size. Reading more about the plant, on my return home, I learnt that once the plant has flowered the leaves grow in size.

Marsh marigold is herbaceous, meaning that each winter the plant goes into hibernation, retreating from above the surface and storing its energy within buds until the following spring. It you have not taken the time to stop in a local park that you regularly drive past, after my wonderful afternoon in the Liffey Linear Park, I recommend you do.

If you would like to suggest a species to focus on for ‘Wildlife Watch’ contact the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on 045 860133 or email bogs@ipcc.ie