Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Beware of poisonous lords-and-ladies

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Beware of poisonous lords-and-ladies

Lords-and-Ladies. Picture: Nuala Madigan

I presume I am not the only member of our community who, at least once a day, will make a comment about the local weather.

Last week the weather was certainly a talking point, with my main question being will it snow or not? As I sit indoors writing this piece, the wind is blowing a light flurry of snow in the air — so my question was answered, and it turned my attention to the time of year.

February is the start of spring, according to our seasons — however, in a weather report by Met Éireann I learned that February is traditionally one of the coldest months of the year. It is surprising when I look around my garden and see the leaves of daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops emerging after their winter retreat.

Although these are all non-native ornamental plants, one wild flower that is also emerging and you can watch for this week in your local 5km are the leaves of lords-and-ladies (cluas chaoin as Gaeilge).

The glossy green leaves of lords-and-ladies can emerge as early as January and are easily identified by their arrow shaped leaves. This wildflower is not one that you will find in open grassland it prefers shade so check for this wildflower at the base of hedgerows or treelines in your community.

In my experience, this is a fairly common species — however it does not grow in clusters. Instead you will tend to find single plants.

The flowers do not have petals. Instead, this plant is tall with both a cylindrical shape and green-purple colouring.

The autumn berries first emerge bright green, and change later in the season to bright orange. The leaves, flowers and berries all are easily identified. This is also a good thing as all parts of this wildflower are poisonous, so if you do find it in your local area this week, admire it but don’t touch, pick or eat it.

If you come across a wildlife species that you would like help identifying, I would be happy to help.

Contact me at

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