Kildare Wildlife Watch: Love potion wildflower brings a splash of colour to the hedgerows

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 Wildlife Watch: Love potion wildflower brings a splash of colour to the hedgerows

Creeping Cinquefoil

I hope you decided to take part in the National Biodiversity Data Centres garden flower and insect count. This week I recorded small tortoiseshell and holly blue butterflies, wasps, hoverfiles and bumblebees visit my garden — however they did not wait for me to get the camera and take a picture!

This week I want you to look out for creeping cinquefoil (cúig mhéar mhuire as Gaeilge) within 2km of your home. You will find it under hedges and in grass verges and for some you won’t even have to leave home. Have a look in your flower beds and along the edges of your lawn and you might just find this wildflower emerging.

Although its bright yellow flowers will not bloom until June it’s the leaf of this wildflower that can be found at this time of year and the shape is what makes it a relatively easy species to identify.

Each of the leaves is deeply divided into five leaflets emerging from the same point. This type of leaf is actually known as a palmate leaf.

Creeping cinquefoil has a deep tap root growing to a depth of 30cm. Up to 15 runners can grow from this tap root. These runners are the stems of the plant but as they grow horizontally along the ground rather than upright they are referred to as runners.

Along these runners at various points a leaf will emerge at a point called a node. These nodes are significant on creeping cinquefoil. Not only do they allow the leaf to emerge, but also at this point creeping cinquefoil has the ability to develop a new root, which in turn will eventually allow another 15 runners to emerge.

Unmanaged in your garden, creeping cinquefoil can become established and carpet areas.

Interestingly this wildflower has anassociation with love, apparently it was used in the Middle Ages as one of the ingredients to make love potions!

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.