Kildare Wildlife Watch: Check wildflower patches for Yorkshire Fog

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Reporter:

Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Email:

bogs@ipcc.ie

Kildare Wildlife Watch: Check wildflower patches for Yorkshire Fog

Yorkshire Fog

Staying with grasses this week, another very common species in our communities is Yorkshire Fog (Féar an chinn bháin as Gaeilge).

This grass begins to flower each year from June, and you can expect to see the end of the flowering heads in your community this week.

You can also expect to find Yorkshire Fog growing along roadside verges, along hedgerows, fields and, indeed, if you have left a wildflower area in your garden you may even find this grass within it!

The stems can reach a height of approximately 70cm to one metre, and the flowering heads can be greenish-white to a pink-purple in colour. They are also smooth, feathery and grow in a pyramid shape.

It is a native grass throughout Europe. Although the young, pale green leaves are eaten by livestock as the grass matures, it becomes inedible to both cattle and sheep so it is not considered a favourite within the farming community.

It is a popular grass for wildlife, with rabbits known to enjoy a feast of Yorkshire Fog, as do the caterpillars of the Essex Skipper and the Small Skipper butterflies.

An interesting fact about the Small Skipper is that, according to irishbutterflies.com, County Kildare is the only county where it has been identified in Ireland. The presence of this caterpillar suggests the presence of Yorkshire Fog within the county.

Smoke

Reading a little about this grass, I came across a website that suggests the common name was given to this species as the flowering head, at a distance, reminded people in the past of smoke rising from chimneys in Northern England, where you will find the English county of Yorkshire.

I am not sure if this suggestion is 100% accurate, but considering we don’t have a Yorkshire in Ireland it does provide a reasonable suggestion.

Will you find the Yorkshire Fog in your community this week?

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