Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Looking forward to summer colour and wildflowers

With the Bog of Allen Nature 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: Looking forward to summer colour and wildflowers

Field scabious - a beautiful lilac wildflower. Picture: Nuala Madigan

It has been so wet over the past week I thought I would write about the summer ahead and all the wonderful wildflowers that will colour our communities!

At this time of year in our communities you will be encountering the first of the spring flowers to emerge, signaling to us spring has arrived even tough it may not seem like it with the recent weather.

The tiny blue flowers growing in the grass are called speedwell.

Along with this you will encounter the common daisy and dandelions.

The bright yellow flowers of lesser celandine at this time of year can be confused with the dandelion, but take a second look and you will notice the leaf shape is different as lesser celandine has dark green heart shaped leaves.

Field Scabious

The wildflower I am choosing to write about this week is field scabious (cab an ghasáin as Gaeilge) and the reason is the beautiful lilac flower it produces in July each year.

You may have heard this wildflower referred to as ‘pins and needles’ because the flower head looks like that of a pin cushion.

The flower is actually quite large, measuring 3-4cms in diameter and I first came across this species growing along the banks of the closed Mountmellick branch of the Grand Canal in Monasterevin last Summer.

This is a tall plant that can reach a height of 1metre and this height is supported by a long tap root beneath the surface.

The wildflower is a perennial, meaning it will grow and flower for more than one year.

At this time of year you should begin to notice the first of the leaves emerging. These will form in a basal rosette of spear shaped leaves.

As the plant grows in height, smaller spear shaped leaves will begin to grow opposite one another along a hairy stem.

If you choose to look for field scabious in the coming months expect to find it growing in grassy verge along field boundaries or roadside banks.

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on 045 860133 or bogs@ipcc.ie.