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The Great British Wildflower Hunt

Published on August 30th 2018

by Helen_Allsebrook. All rights reserved

Does 'Herb-Robert' grow in the pavement cracks outside your house? Are the patches of nettles along the footpath also harbouring White Dead Nettle?
Herb-Robert, Geranium robertianum
These were the kind of questions we wanted to investigate last week when we set out on the Great British Wildflower Hunt, launched this spring by the charity Plantlife. The aim is to help provide information about our wildflowers, many of which are in severe decline, and to engage people with the plant life on their doorsteps.
Knapweed, Centaurea jacea
The hunt is designed to be family-friendly with sheets to download to help all members of the family identify common wildflowers. There are also online resources that hunters can use to ID plants and log their sightings. The wildflower hunts are divided into two categories – town and countryside – and the flowers chosen accordingly.
My children busily identifying plants, using i-SPY guides
We completed the hunt in a meadow alongside a chalk stream near our house and were surprised at the number of wildflowers we managed to locate. Armed with an i-SPY book and the online resources, we had barely turned the corner before my sharp-eyed son spotted red clover threading its way through the grass verge.

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Further along the path, my daughter danced with delight over a common mallow flower – one of her favourites for its association with seaside holidays and its bold purple stripes.
Once we reached the meadow our hunt picked up the pace – along the stream bank Japanese knotweed and meadowsweet towered over the lower vegetation and in the damp grassland the children found meadow buttercups and white clover.

Common Mallow

Malva sylvestris

White Clover

Trifolium repens

Some white Reynoutria japonica Fallopia japonica flowers and green leaves against a blue sky

Japanese Knotweed

Reynoutria japonica

Creeping Buttercup

Ranunculus repens

In addition to the flowers on the Plantlife sheet, we also spotted the sunny heads of silverweed emerging between the sedge tufts and the tall spires of Great Willowherb.
We returned home with 215 points (according to my son) in the I-Spy book, our hunt data submitted to Plantlife and a much greater awareness of the diversity of wild plants in our neighbourhood. It’s not too late to get involved, just sign up at Plantlife, choose your location and you’re ready to go.

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