The snowdrop is not native to Ireland. Picture: Nuala Madigan
A few weeks ago I asked you to watch for the leaves of lords-and-ladies one of Ireland’s native wildflowers.
As the temperatures are increasing, more and more of our wildflowers are beginning to emerge in our 5km. If you are living in a rural area one of the first wild shrubs to bloom is gorse (aiteann gallda as Gaeilge). Gorse is sometimes referred to as furze with its bright yellow flower.
It looks like a pretty shrub at a distance but of course on closer inspection you will know it is covered in prickly spines. Another wildflower with 8-12 narrow yellow petals you should watch for is lesser celandine (grán arcáin as Gaeilge).
This wildflower is low growing and you will find it under hedges or at the base of trees. The leaves are glossy green and heart shaped so easily identified. I have yet to spot the leaves of primrose (sabhaircín as Gaeilge) in my local area but although its Latin name means ‘first flower’ it does not actually flower until April.
One of the most common spring bulbs to emerge is the snowdrop (plúirín sneachta as Gaeilge). Although easily identified with its white petals which are actually the plants sepals (an outer part of the flower which is usually green) this is not a native wildflower.
Today it is considered naturalised meaning that it grows without threatening native species populations. The snowdrop is low growing reaching a height of 10cm and grows both well in shade and sun. You will typically find it along streams, in woodlands, open grassland and of course our gardens.
Over the coming weeks and months a variety of wildflowers will begin again to bloom and bring colour to our communities while also providing an important source of nectar for our early emerging bumblebees.
How many will you observe in your 5km this year? You can share your observations with the National Biodiversity Data Centre (www.biologyireland.ie) and by submitting your sightings you will become a citizen scientist.
If you come across a wildlife species that you would like help identifying I would be happy to help, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org