GARLIC MUSTARD, Alliaria petiolata

Photograph by Dal

Wild flora I.D.-3 a sequel to wild flora I.D.2  looking at spring flora

Garlic mustard---

Garlic mustard also known as jack-by-the-hedge produces foliage early in the season where they tenant situations such as along hedgerows and roadsides, in woodland margins and among scrub , in open or shaded aspects.

The foliage is basal at first where it is found in rosette like tufts {picture above middle} early on but they soon respond to the call of spring and large masses of foliage may be encountered. The rootstock is biennial. The leaves are triangular to heart shaped, toothed and stalked, they are arranged alternate along the stem. The plant attains the height of between 40 -120cm.

The flowers appear in small clusters at the tip of the stems and are small in relation to the size of the plant. Each flower has four petals, white, 3-5mm wide. These are succeeded by elongated seed pods that stand away from the stem.

The foliage when crushed smells of garlic. This member of the cabbage family is the only species outside the onion family to smell and taste of garlic.


COWSLIP, Primula veris

Photographs by Dal


The foliage of this plant forms a basal rosette and have a similar shape and texture of those of the primrose. The leaves are usually of a deep green colour and oblong  tapering to the base  with a prominent pale midrib and neatly toothed margins.

The flowers are yellow and nodding borne in loose clusters on each flower stem which all rise well above the foliage. The flowers are 7-14mm wide and appear in April and May. They have a long pale yellowish green calyx and each have five petals that form a tube. They open slightly to reveal an orange mark on each petal.

They reach the height of 10-25cm. They may be encountered in meadows and dry grassy areas and on embankments.

PRIMROSE--Primula vulgaris

Photographs by Dal


Like the cowslip the leaves of this species form a basal rosette. They also have a wrinkled surface and neatly toothed.  They also have a prominent pale midrib but the leaves are generally a lighter green than the former species.

The flowers are pale yellow with five notched petals which appear early in the year from February until May, even earlier in the south of the country. The flowers are borne singly and open the petals to the sun.

WILD GARLIC--Allium ursinum. Flower buds and foliage,Bottom---wild garlic cloacking a woodland floor

Photographs by Dal

wild garlic {ramsons} description

The foliage of this plant carpets woodland floors during spring they produce a strong odour of garlic which makes them unmistakeable. This strong smell of the foliage, especially when crushed  distinguishes them from the similar looking, poisonous Lily of the Valley foliage. There are two to three bright green leaves that arise directly from the bulb below ground. Each of them are elliptical.

The flowers are white and grow in globular clusters known as umbels. The individual flowers have six petals forming a star shape and spreading, there may be up to 25 individual flowers forming the umbel.Each being 1.2 to 2cm wide. Two spathes enclose the flower buds. The plants attain the height of 30-45cm.

HEDGE WOUNDWORT. Stachys sylvatica.

Photographs by Dal

Hedge woundwort description.

This species produces nettle like foliage during April and May. These leaves are very soft and felt like to the touch. They are distinctly heart shaped at the base and triangular in form. They have a wrinkled surface, and toothed margins. the foliage has an unpleasant smell especially when crushed. The lower leaves are short stalked the stem leaves are short stalked and opposite to each other on the stem. The stems are square typical of the mint family to which the plant belongs.

The flowers appear in whorls around the stem forming a spike. Individual flowers are 1.3 to 1.8 cms long. They consist of a calyx with equal pointed teeth. They are two lipped. The lower lip has white or pale markings on the dull purple back ground. The upper lip forms a hood. Many individual flowers form the spike.

the plant is perennial and attains the height of 60 to100cms. They flower from June to September. They are a plant of light shade such as woodland margins cultivated or waste land, along hedgerows and footpaths, they may also be encountered as a garden weed. They are surperficially similar to wood betony.

WHITE DEAD NETTLE---Lamium album

The palnt as a whole has a striking resemblance to the stinging nettle especially in early spring when before they flower and when they are of a similar size. However, as soon as flowering commences the differences between the two unrelated species becomes apparent.

White dead nettle 

Photograph by Dal

description of the white dead nettle.

However, even at this early stage in the season of growth closer observation will reveal salient differences in their form. The stems of the white dead nettle are square and hollow while those of the stinging nettle are rounder and solid. the main difference is the lack of stinging hairs on the stems and foliage hence the "dead" nettle. The similarity of the two sets of foliage may well protect the dead nettle from being grazed by animals that are aware of the pain caused by eating the stinging nettle.

A country title for the white dead nettle is the bee nettle for the insects are regular visitors to its blooms , especially the bumble bee. In the axils of the nettle - like foliage the flowers are produced in whorls {rings around the stem}. each whorl consists of 6-12 creamy white flowers. These tubular flowers arise from a green spiky calyx. The petals number five. One forms the lip, two the hood and two form small wings. Four stamens lie in pairs along the throat of the flower.

The foliage is triangular in shape and have saw like toothed margins. Both the leaves and the square stems are covered in small rough hairs. When bruised the whole plant has a strong disagreeable smell.  

when the flowers fade the green calyx remains protecting the nutlets that contain the seed. When the latter is ripe they are dispersed by any pressure on the calyx. They may be catapulted some distance from the parent plant.

The white dead nettle has the longest flowering period of the mint family to which they belong. They may be found in bloom from April until December. 

 Lamium album

Photograph by Dal