Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The sparkling leaves of wild Lady’s Mantle

With Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Centre

Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Reporter:

Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Email:

bogs@ipcc.ie

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The sparkling leaves of wild Lady’s Mantle

Lady's Mantle. Picture: Nuala Madigan

In the wildlife gardens of the Bog of Allen Nature Centre there are hundreds of plants. Some are ornamental while others are native wildflowers.

I have worked at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre for almost 15 years and have walked past this week’s wildflower on numerous occasions, always assuming it was an ornamental species.

This week I took time to look closely at the plant as it is now in bloom, displaying clusters of tiny, pretty yellow-green star shaped flowers. I decided to learn more about this particular plant. After photographing it I began the identification process and discovered it was called lady’s mantle (dearna mhuire as Gaeilge) and that it is a member of the rosaceae (rose) family.

This family has over 300 species, many of which are native wildflowers in Ireland. Identifying Lady’s Mantle this week reaffirms my belief that learning the variety of wildlife in our community is a lifelong process that we start as young children and continue through adulthood.

Lady’s Mantle is a wildflower that you may find growing in your local area. It likes fertile land and does well in both shade and sunny spots — however this species also loves our gardens so you may not have to go far at all to find it within your community this week.

The smooth, velvet-to-the-touch leaves are kidney shaped and can have between five and 11 lobes. A distinguishing feature is that its leaves are corrugated or pleated, which helps in identification.

The leaves can vary in size and they are also known to release water through pores on the leaf surface, that glisten in the sun on warm days. All plants release water droplets from their leaves through a process known as transpiration. While these water droplets will drop from the leaf surface of most plants before we even notice them, the velvet nature of the leaves of lady’s mantle holds these droplets. When hit by the sun’s rays, they can make the leaves sparkle.

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me via e-mail bogs@ipcc.ie.