The text on this page is taken from the book 'Flowers shown to the Children\ by C E Smith and illustrated by Janet Harvey Kelman,
The pages are courtesy of the Gutenburg Project. The Book is not in copyright under the Gutenberg license visit www.gutenberg.org
The coloured images/photographs are my personal choice. [see reuse of images below}
This page is aimed at educating children the future custodians of our countryside.
This is one of the first flowers you will see in springtime. It covers the ground in patches in every wood, and you will find it too under the hedges and on banks by the roadside.
The flower has eight long narrow petals, which are much narrower and more pointed than those of the Buttercup.
When the Celandine is still in bud the outside of these petals is beautifully streaked with purple. But when the flower opens in the sunshine, the petals are a bright yellow colour, and are as glossy as if they were wet.
In the centre of the flower there is a ring of yellow stamens with a cluster of green seed-vessels amongst them.
Behind the coloured petals are three narrow pointed sepals. These protect the flower when it is in bud.
The green leaves of the Celandine are dark and glossy, with wavy edges, and each leaf has a stalk of its own.
If you look carefully at one of these leaves you will see that the stalk is flattened at the foot. This helps it to clasp the main stem more easily.
The root is divided into five or six hard little brown fingers. These brown fingers are called tubers, and each tuber, if planted separately, will produce a new plant.
In spring the Bulbous Buttercup is found everywhere, filling the meadows with its sunshiny flowers.
Each flower has five glossy yellow petals which do not lie flat open as in the Celandine, but form a cup, a yellow cup or Buttercup.
At the base of each petal you find a small honey pouch, which the bees love to visit.
When the flower is still in bud, the yellow petals are almost covered by five pale-green hairy sepals. You can see only the yellow tips peeping out. But when the flower opens, these hairy green sepals fold back close round the stalk.
In the centre of the flower is a thick cluster of yellow-headed stamens with a knot of green seed-vessels in the middle.
The stalk on which the flower grows is slightly hairy, and has a narrow groove on one side.
The root is shaped like a small turnip, and has a great many white threads growing out of it.
The leaves of this Buttercup are dark green, with soft hairs all over them. They are shaped very irregularly, and are deeply cut up all round the edges.
The Meadow Buttercup is abundant all over the country. It grows beside the Daisy in every field and hedge-bank.
In this Buttercup the flower has five bright glossy yellow petals, which open out flat and are not cup-shaped as in the Bulbous Buttercup.
There is a hard green knot of seed-vessels in the centre of the flower, with a ring of yellow stamens all round it. When the yellow stamens and petals fall off, this bunch of seed-vessels grows bigger and bigger, until it looks like a small green raspberry.
Outside the yellow petals are five pale-green sepals. These remain close behind the yellow flower and do not fold back against the stalk as in the Bulbous Buttercup.
The flower-stalk is slightly hairy, but it is not grooved.
The green leaves are dark, and are covered with soft hairs. Each leaf is divided into three parts, which are very deeply cut up all round the edge.
You will easily recognise this Buttercup if you remember three things.
1. The flower-stalk has no groove.
2. The little green sepals do not fold back close to the stalk.
3. The root has no bulb.
This is one of our handsomest wildflowers. It grows abundantly in springtime by the side of ponds, or on the marshy edge of a slow-running stream. It looks like a large, thick Buttercup.
The Marsh Marigold is closely related to the Buttercup family, though it differs from the Buttercups in various ways.
The five bright yellow petals of the flowers are glossy, and have little veins running up from the bottom.
In the centre of these petals there is a big bunch of yellow stamens, with a group of green seed-vessels amongst them.
If you look at the back of an open flower you will see that there are no green sepals such as there are in the Buttercups.
The flower-stalks are thick and hollow, with ridges along the sides. They snap off easily when gathered, but very soon they lose their stiffness and become soft and flabby. This means they are thirsty, and if you give them plenty of water to drink they will soon be as stiff as when they were growing.
The green leaves of the Marsh Marigold are dark above, but underneath they are much lighter. They are very glossy and smooth, and each leaf is covered with a fine network of veins.
In shape they are like a heart with crinkled edges.
The Wallflower, as its name tells you, likes to grow on walls. In early spring you will see it on the top of old walls or high up on the broken roof of a ruined castle. How did it get there? The wind or the birds must have carried the seed.
The flowers are a rich golden yellow, and they have a delightful scent. Each flower has four beautiful petals, which are broad above with a long strap forming the lower part.
In the centre where these four petals meet, you can just see the tips of the stamens peeping out: but the seed-vessel is hidden from sight.
The four sepals are a dark purple colour, and they form a cup in which the lower or strap-shaped part of the petal is held.
Those flowers which are nearest the foot of the stem open first. You will often find eight or ten yellow flowers blooming at the same time and a bunch of dark purple buds at the end of the stem.
The stem of the Wallflower is tough and woody near the ground, but further up it is green and smooth.
The leaves are narrow pointed straps with smooth edges. They are dark green, but sometimes they have a touch of purple at the tips.
This is a plant the farmers are very sorry to see. They do not want it among the corn, but in springtime the fields are often covered with its yellow flowers.
The flowers grow in a cluster near the top of the stem. There are often four or five in full bloom at once, gathered round a bunch of green buds which rises in the centre of the cluster. While the first cluster is in flower, the stem continues to grow, and by the time these flowers fall off, another cluster appears at the end of the lengthened stem, and so on.
If you pull off one of the flower-petals you will see that the lower half is strap-shaped. But the petal is much broader at the other end, and it is round, with a tiny nick in the outer edge.
In the centre there are six stamens whose tips you can just see where the four petals meet. But the seed-vessel is hidden until the petals and sepals and stamens fall off. It then grows into a thin green pod, and you will find many of these slender pods standing out from the hairy stem.
Behind the yellow petals are four thin sepals. When the flower is fully out these lie flat open. They do not form a cup.
The leaves of the Wild Mustard are dusty green. They are each in one piece and are broadly pointed, with the edges cut like the teeth of a saw.
This is a very common little plant, but it is not at all attractive. You find it by the roadside and in waste places in early summer, and it always looks very dusty.
The flowers are quite small. They grow in little clusters at the end of a long spike, and there are usually four or five flowers out at the same time. These flowers have each four tiny petals of a pale yellow colour, and unless you look very closely, and pull these petals gently apart, you will not see either the stamens or the seed-vessel, which are almost hidden from sight.
The little green sepals at the back of each flower stand straight up from the stalk and form a cup. This cup has slits down the sides and it holds the flower.
The stalk is almost covered with thin, hairy, green pods pressed closely against it. These pods hold the seeds, and they look like green caterpillars creeping up each side of the stem.
The leaves of the Hedge Mustard are a dull grey-green colour and are very rough and hairy. Those nearest the ground have no stalks, they grow like a rosette, with one leaf close above another.
But the leaves further up the stem are each separate. They are very much cut up, and their edges are toothed like a saw.
Image courtesy of Ian Cunliffe geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0 license
The Yellow Horned Poppy grows all summer on sandy seashores or among stones. It is a showy plant, with large, orange-yellow flowers.
Each flower has four petals which open almost flat. These petals are very soft and are daintily waved round the edges.
In the centre of the petals rises a big bunch of stamens. In the middle of these stamens stands a curious green horn. This is the seed-vessel, and it is divided at the tip into three little forks.
As soon as the yellow stamens and the petals fall off, this horn grows into a long curved pod, and in this pod are the seeds.
The Horned Poppy has two green sepals which are very rough and hairy. They cover the flower so long as it is in bud, but whenever the flower begins to expand these sepals burst open, and as soon as the yellow petals have smoothed out their crinkles in the sun these little green coverings fall off.
The leaves of this Poppy are thick and leathery, and are covered with hairs which make them look grey.
These leaves have no separate stalks, but grow close to the stem as if they were clasping it
This is a delicate little branching plant which trails in summer-time along the ground, on grassy hills, and among rocks and gravel.
The flowers grow singly on short stalks, and each flower has five bright yellow petals which lie flat open. These petals are not stiff and glossy like those of the Buttercup, but soft and easily crinkled like the Poppy petals.
If you touch very lightly the yellow stamens in the centre of the flower, they will spread out and lie down.
The Rock Rose has five little green sepals. Three of these have their tips slightly tinged with pink, and these pink-tinged sepals are large enough to cover the flower when it is in bud. The other two are much smaller, with sharply-pointed tips, and they grow at the end of the little flower-stalk behind the pinky sepals.
The leaves of the Rock Rose are long and narrow with smooth edges, and they grow opposite each other on the stem.
These leaves are always dark green above, but underneath they are covered with fine white woolly down, and if you hold them up to the light you will see that the edges are fringed with soft hairs.
This small plant grows in damp places by the side of ditches and on wet rocks. It is commonest in the north of Britain, but in spring you will find its soft stems creeping close to the ground in the south of England also.
The Golden Saxifrage has no petals. The yellow flowers grow at the end of the stem in small clusters, which are sunk among the leaves.
Each flower has a yellow calyx tube, which is divided at the mouth into four parts. These divisions are yellow inside, but on the outside they are green.
There is a ring of tiny stamens standing out all round the mouth of the calyx tube, and in the very centre of the flower stands a fat seed-vessel, like a beak, which splits open into halves when the seeds are ripe.
The leaves of the Golden Saxifrage grow in pairs on each side of a pale green, juicy stem.
This stem is covered with clear white hairs. The leaves are pale green and are round in shape, with crinkled edges. They are very soft, and, like the stem, they have fine white hairs all over them.
When you gather a handful of the Golden Saxifrage you find a great many slender white roots hanging from the stem wherever it has lain along the ground
This is a shrub children like better to look at than to gather. It is very common on heaths and banks and in dry fields, and it blooms in early summer.
The flowers are curious, because the five petals are so strangely shaped. One broad petal stands up highest and is called 'the Standard.' Then there are two narrow petals at the side; these are called 'Wings.' And in between these narrow petals there are two joined together like a tiny boat, which are called 'the Keel.'
There is a bunch of curved stamens with their slender stalks all joined together at the bottom into a green tube.
Amongst these stamens you can see the tip of the seed-vessel.
When the flower is in bud it is enclosed in a rough, yellowish-green covering which has many black hairs all over it. This covering usually opens in two pieces, and these pieces remain below the flower until it is withered.
Instead of leaves the Gorse has many sharp prickly spikes or leaf-thorns. You will notice that there are many of these sharp spikes which have little groups of two or three shorter spikes branching from them, and each branch ends in a sharp spike.
This is one of our most beautiful spring shrubs. It grows on heaths and by the roadside, and sometimes you will see a low hill covered with it, and glistening like gold in the sunshine.
The flowers are very like those of the Common Whin, but they are much larger, and the yellow colour is deeper and more golden.
The petals are shaped the same as in the Common Whin, and if you look at the green tube into which the stamens are joined, you will see that it has a curious green thread at the end which is twisted into a curl. The seeds are in this tube, and when the petals and stamens have all fallen off, this tube becomes a flat green pod tinged with purple. The curly green thread still remains at the end.
There are green sepals at the back of the flower which form a cup. This cup looks as if it was only in two pieces; but, as in the Common Whin, it is really made up of five sepals, and you can often see five little teeth at the mouth which show where each sepal begins.
The leaves of the Broom are very small, and they grow in groups of three. Those close to the flowers have no stalks, but the others have each a stalk with the three little leaves at the end.
The Needle Whin is not so well known as the Common Whin or the Broom, though it belongs to the same family. It is very common, and you will find plenty of it in spring and early summer growing close to the ground among the heather.
The flowers are pale yellow, with six petals very like those of the Common Whin or the Broom, only much smaller. You find five or six flowers growing close together on a trailing woody stem.
Each flower sits in a green cup, which is made up of five sepals joined together. Round the mouth of the cup are five sharp teeth, and you can see, much more clearly than in the Common Whin or in the Broom, where each separate sepal begins.
After the petals and stamens fall off, the seed-vessels grow into large, fat pods which are commonly tinged with purple.
If you are not in the country until the petals have fallen, you will easily recognise the Needle Whin by these fat pods. Sometimes five or six or more grow near the top of each short stem.
The leaves of this tiny Whin are very small and have scarcely any stalks. Growing up the main stem are many very fine spines or leaf-thorns, as sharp as needles.
From these the plant gets its name.
Image courtesy of Anne Burgess geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0 license
The Common Avens grows abundantly all summer in woods and on shady hedge-banks, but it is not very attractive.
The flowers are small, with five separate yellow petals which lie flat open. As you look down into the flower, you can see the tips of the five green sepals appearing between the yellow petals.
Each flower grows at the end of a short stalk, but two or three of these stalks often spring from the main stem at the same place.
Half way up this stem you will find a pair of tiny green leaves with very small buds appearing between them and the stalk. These buds will come out later, when their stalks have time to lengthen.
In the centre of the ring of stamens there is a small green bunch of seed-vessels. Each seed-vessel has a thin stiff hair at the top, and after the yellow petals fall off you will see this bristly bunch of spikes still at the end of the flower-stalk, with the tiny green sepals standing out like a frill behind.
Each leaf is divided into three or more parts. Those close to the ground are large and coarse, with the edges cut like the teeth of a saw.
But there are leaves further up the stem, and these are frequently divided quite differently from the root leaves.
This is a tall, handsome plant, whose flowers appear late in summer among low-growing bushes or on the hedge-banks.
Each flower has five pale yellow, pointed petals, which open like a star. On these petals there are often many small black dots.
The flowers grow on short stalks, which always rise between a small green leaf and the stem. These flower-stalks are in pairs, exactly opposite each other on each side of the stem.
Inside the flower there are a great many stamens. These stamens are grouped in bunches, and do not form a ring all round the centre as in many flowers.
Seated among these bunches is a pear-shaped seed-vessel with three horns at the top.
At the back of the flower, lying flat open, are five thin green sepals, whose tips you can see appearing, as you look down into the flower, between the yellow petals.
The stalk is smooth and stiff, with two edges which look as if the sides had been joined together.
The green leaves grow in pairs opposite each other. They taper to a point and have edges that are smooth all round. If you look closely you will see that each leaf is covered with tiny black dots.
There is another St. John's Wort very like this, but its stalk is square, with four edges.
This is a dainty little plant which grows all summer in open woods, and on heaths, where its masses of small yellow flowers look like gold stars among the tangle of green leaves and stems.
The flowers are small, with four pale yellow petals which lie wide open, and rising from amongst them there are yellow stamens with a bunch of green seed-vessels in the centre. Behind these yellow petals there is a green star-circle of sepals. Four of these sepals are long and green, and their tips can be seen in front between the yellow flower-petals.
There are also four much smaller green sepals which stand between each of the larger ones, so the calyx is really a beautiful green star with eight points.
Each flower has a stalk of its own, and each stalk rises from between a leaf and the stem. Sometimes they are deeply tinged with purple.
The green leaves of the Tormentil are soft and fine, with a few downy hairs on the front. They are divided into five fingers, and each of these fingers has its edges cut into large teeth all the way round.
Very often these edges turn quite yellow when the plant is just beginning to fade.
The Tormentil root is rather curious. It looks like a thick brown finger, but if you cut it, the inside is a delicate rose red.
The golden Birdsfoot Trefoil grows nearly everywhere. You can gather its tufts of bright yellow flowers all summer in the fields and woods and waste places.
The flowers grow in heads at the end of a long flower-stalk, and each head may have from four to eight flowers close together in a bunch.
The five petals are golden-yellow streaked with red, and they are strangely shaped. There is one big petal which stands up behind. Then there are two long-shaped petals which lie sideways, and two small ones that are joined together in a curious point.
After the petals fall off, the seed-vessel in the centre of the stamens grows into a long, thin red pod; and when there are four or five of these narrow pods at the end of the flower-stalk, they look like the claw of a bird.
That is why this Trefoil is called Birdsfoot.
The leaves are very pretty. There is a single small green leaflet, with smooth round edges, at the end of a short stalk. Just below this little leaflet there is a pair of tiny leaflets. And further down, where the stalk joins the main stem, you will find still another little pair. So that the name Trefoil, which means 'three leaves,' is not correct, as there are really five small leaflets on each short stalk.
The Hop Trefoil is a cousin of the Birdsfoot Trefoil, and is quite as plentiful. It grows all summer by the edge of the fields and in grassy pastures.
You will easily recognise it by the flowers. These cluster together in small round yellow heads like a tiny clover. In each head there are from twenty to forty little flowers closely packed together. When you pick one of these tiny flowers to pieces, you find that the petals are very much the same as those of the Birdsfoot Trefoil. But they are so small that you would require a magnifying glass to see them clearly, and to discover the stamens and seed-vessels which are hidden inside.
When the flowers begin to fade, the petals do not fall off at once, but they shrivel and become a pale-brown colour. Sometimes you find a flower of which the lower half is quite brown and withered, while the upper half remains golden yellow.
At the end of the flower-stalk you find a small oval green leaflet, and close below this single leaflet comes a pair of dainty leaflets. On each stalk there is always this triplet. The main stem is covered with fine downy hairs, and you will notice that wherever a leaf-stalk joins this stem there are two small green sheaths with points, which look as if they were meant to cover the join.
The Meadow Vetchling is not nearly such a stout plant as the Lady's Fingers. Its stem is feeble and requires to find support by holding on to the hedges, or to some other strong plant.
The flowers are a beautiful golden yellow. They grow in loose bunches near the end of a straight, stiff flower-stalk. Notice that all the flowers face one way, and that in each flower the largest yellow petal is daintily streaked with purple.
You cannot see either the stamens or the seed-vessel, which are hidden inside the flower.
The sepals are joined so that they form a green cup which has five sharp points round the mouth.
The leaflets grow in pairs at the end of the leaf-stalk. They are long and narrow, like a lance, with fine lines running from end to end. In between each pair of leaflets you find a green twisted thread called a tendril. This tendril curls round the stem of plants that are stronger than the Meadow Vetchling, and they support it.
Wherever the leaf-stalk joins the main stem you will find another pair of green leaves. These leaves are shaped like the head of an arrow, and they have a name of their own, which you will learn when you know more about plants.
This showy plant grows abundantly all summer on dry banks and pastures. You will easily recognise it by the large heads of pale yellow flowers with their woolly sepals.
The flowers are grouped in two heads at the end of a stout stalk, and there are usually ten to twenty separate flowers in each head. The petals seem very similar to those of the Trefoils, but each petal ends in a long claw, and these claws are hidden in the cup formed by the sepals.
This calyx-cup is edged round the mouth with sharp teeth, and it is covered with grey fluffy down. The grey down gives a woolly appearance to the flowers.
You also find a frill of narrow green pointed leaves without stalks underneath each head of flowers.
When the petals and stamens have fallen off, the yellow calyx-cup becomes much swollen, and inside it there remains a small pod which bears the seeds.
On the upper side the leaves are a delicate blue-green, with fine silky hairs all over them. But underneath these leaves are much paler. Each leaflet is long and narrow and is placed the one opposite the other on the leaf-stalk, at the end of which there is always a solitary leaflet.
This pretty plant is common everywhere. You will find it all summer by the roadside, in meadows, and by the edge of the cornfields.
The flowers are bright golden yellow: they have five petals which open out like a rose, and in the centre there is a ring of yellow stamens with a knot of green seed-vessels among them.
In between each of these yellow petals you see a narrow green point appearing. These are sepals, and if you look at the back of the flower you find that the calyx is really a star made up of ten pointed green sepals.
The flowers grow on long, slender stalks. Both the flower and the leaves rise from what looks like another slender stalk creeping close to the ground. The creeping stalk comes from a root which resembles a small carrot. This root goes straight down into the ground, and it sends out three long, stalk-like creepers which lie along the surface. Wherever a bunch of leaves and flowers rises from the creeper, two or three little white roots go down into the ground. These take firm hold of the earth and help to keep the plant steady.
The leaves are beautiful. Each leaf is divided into five fingers, which are cut round the edges like the teeth of a saw. They are dark green, and have long, slender stalks like the flowers.
The Silver Weed prefers to grow in damp meadows and on the banks of ditches. You find it in abundance all summer.
The flowers are not unlike those of the Cinquefoil. They have five golden yellow petals which are not cup-shaped, but lie flat open. These petals are larger than those of the Cinquefoil, and you can only see the smallest tip of the green sepals appearing in between each.
There are really ten sepals in the calyx. Five of these are narrow little pointed leaves, but the others are each divided at the tip. If you remove all the yellow petals, this green calyx, with its ten green points, is just like a beautiful star.
The Silver Weed sends out long creepers. These are thicker than in the Cinquefoil, and are often tinged with pink.
When the leaves are half-open they look almost entirely white, because they are covered with a fine silvery down. But when they are fully out they become dark green above, and it is only the underside which remains white and silvery.
Notice that the leaves grow in pairs, with big leaflets and very little leaflets alternately on each side of the leaf-stalk, and that their edges are deeply toothed all round.
This plant likes to grow in dry places, such as hedge-banks or at the side of fields, and it blooms in summer.
The flowers grow one above the other on a tall spike, and they look like small yellow stars. Those that grow lowest down on the spike come out first, and the small green buds are crowded together near the top.
In the centre of the five yellow petals there is a ring of stamens, and amongst those stands a fat, green seed-vessel with two horns at the top.
The calyx or green covering of the flower is the part you must notice most closely.
It rises from a short stalk, and is shaped like a bell. There are ten deep lines running from top to bottom of this green bell, and round its mouth there are five large points.
Below these points is a curious ring of tiny hooks like a fringe, and these cling to whatever touches them. You often find a dozen of these little green bells fastened to your skirt if you have been where the Agrimony grows.
The leaflets are dark and hairy. They grow opposite each other in pairs, on each side of the leaf-stalk: first a large pair, then a small pair, turn about, and you always find a single large leaflet at the very end.
Each leaflet is deeply cut round the edge and has teeth like the teeth of a saw.
The Nipplewort is very common everywhere. It grows both in waste places and in cultivated ground or by the roadside, and you find it in flower all summer and autumn.
It has a slender round stem, which branches a good many times, and at the top of each of those branches you find a tiny yellow daisy. These daisies are made up of many yellow tubes, each with a broad yellow strap at the mouth. The straps have the edges cut into sharp teeth, and they stand out in a circle all round the small yellow daisy.
The small yellow heads are held by a green cup made up of two sets of narrow pointed green leaves, and you will notice that there is always a single very tiny grey-green leaf where each branch forks from the main stem.
The leaves of the Nipplewort vary much in shape. Some are like a feather of which the lower part is cut away almost to the centre stalk. Others are regularly oval, with wavy edges all round, and these leaves end in a sharp point. They are dark green in colour, with hairs all round the edge.
The Hawkweeds are a very large family, and it will be a long time before you learn to recognise them all.
The Autumnal Hawkbit is the commonest, and it is found nearly everywhere, in meadows, in pastures, and in waste places. It flowers in late summer and autumn.
The leaves grow in a rosette close to the ground. They are dark green, rather smooth, and are shaped like narrow feathers, with the edges irregularly cut into deep, rounded teeth. They all spring from the centre root.
The heads of yellow flowers grow on tall, slender, wiry stalks. Very tiny scale-like green leaves grow up the stalks at intervals. Each yellow head is made up of many small yellow tubes with a strap at the mouth, and these strap tubes are crowded together all over the flower-head.
When the yellow flowers are withered, the seed-vessels remain, each with a tuft of feathery cotton down attached to it But the down ball is not a perfect one as in the Dandelion; and the down looks grey.
The top of the flower-stalk is clothed with layers of narrow pointed green leaves which are tinged with red, and are sometimes woolly. These layers are pressed tightly one above the other like the scales of a fir-cone, and they cover the yellow flower completely when it is in bud.
The Yellow Goatsbeard is fairly common in this country. It grows in meadows and pastures and in waste places, and it is in flower all summer and autumn.
It belongs to a large family of plants which are very difficult to distinguish the one from the other, and you will find several Goatsbeards that seem very much alike.
This Goatsbeard is a wiry, straight, slender plant. The dark green stem is round, and the leaves grow close to it without stalks. These leaves are like a broad blade of grass at the bottom where they join the stem, but near the top they get very narrow and are folded together, so that they appear almost round, and they end in a sharp point.
The flowers grow singly on round, smooth stems. They look like small Yellow Dandelions with fewer yellow rays, and like the Dandelion they are made up of many little yellow tubes grouped together, some of which have yellow straps at the edge, while others have none. When the flower is half open you will notice that it stands in a green cup made up of eight narrow leaves with long, fine points. These points are much longer than the yellow rays of the flower, and stand up beyond them when the flower is closed. The flowers of the Goatsbeard have the curious habit of closing at midday, even when the sun is shining.
The Coltsfoot is a very common plant. You find it all over the country, and along with the Celandine it is one of the first flowers to appear in spring. The flowers come out before the leaves. They grow singly at the end of straight, woolly stalks which have many little pink scale-like leaves, from top to bottom. When the flowers are withering, their heads begin to droop; but when the downy seed-ball is ready to open, the flower-stalks stand straight up again.
The flowers are bright yellow, and like the Daisy and Dandelion, which belong to the same family, they are made up of a great many tiny tubes grouped close together. Those tubes round the edge have a long, narrow, yellow strap at the outside.
After the flowers are withered, the seeds remain at the end of the stalk, and each seed sends out a tuft of beautiful, straight, white down which forms a delicate ball as in the Dandelion. But the Coltsfoot down-ball is neither so starry nor so beautiful as that of the Dandelion.
The leaves of the Coltsfoot are entirely covered with cotton wool when they are small; as they grow bigger, they become glossy grey-green above, and are white only underneath.
Each leaf is nearly round, with beautiful pointed scollops at the edge, and it has a long stalk.
This plant is one of the very commonest we have. It is in flower all the year round, and grows everywhere. We have all gathered it to give to the canaries, who love to pick the tiny seeds.
The Groundsel flowers grow in small heads of two or three together at the end of short stalks which branch at intervals from top to bottom of the stem. These stalks are not very strong, and as the flower-heads are heavy, they make the stalks bend over.
This is another plant whose flowers are composed of a great many small tubes tightly packed together. These tubes are yellow, and some have a broad, short strap at the mouth of the tube, and in some the mouth is evenly nicked all round. They grow in a tiny green cup, which is made up of narrow strap-shaped green leaves tightly pressed together, and you can only see the tips of the yellow flowers at the mouth of this cup. After the flowers are withered, a bunch of white down is seen coming out of the mouth of the green cup.
The stem of the Groundsel is soft and juicy, and it has a good many hairs upon it.
The leaves are glossy dark green, and are shaped like a feather, with large, regular divisions up the sides. Each division is finely waved all round the edges.
The Ragwort is a very common plant. It grows everywhere, and is in flower in late summer and autumn.
It is a stout and rather coarse plant, with bunches of small yellow daisies growing on short forks which branch from the top of the main stem.
These daisies are rather poor looking, and they are made up of a great many little flowers crowded together inside a green cup, and a few of the flowers round the edge of the cup have yellow straps which are thin and straggling.
The yellow tube flowers in the centre are evenly nicked all round the mouth, and they have yellow stamens whose heads you can see forming a circle round the yellow tip of the seed-vessel with its two curled points.
The stems of the Ragwort are sometimes white and woolly, and they are covered all over with deep ridges.
The leaves are dark green and shiny. They are long and feather-shaped, and are deeply cut up almost to the centre rib, forming narrow green horns on each side of it.
The Crosswort is common in England and in the South of Scotland, but it does not grow far North. It is in flower all spring and summer, and you find it abundantly in woods and thickets. This is rather a soft, weak plant, which you will easily recognise by the curious way the leaves are placed on the stem.
These leaves are small, and pointed, and they grow in form like a cross. The crosses appear about an inch apart all the way up the stem, and their leaves are soft and thin, and are covered all over with fine hairs.
The flowers grow in clusters on very short stalks close to the stem where the four leaves meet. They are yellow and very tiny. Each flower has four petals, and these petals are joined together and show four points standing out round the edge. You will notice four tiny stamens, one of which lies flat between each of the petals, and there are also two narrow green leaves springing from among the small groups of flowers, as well as the four which form a cross.
The stem of the Crosswort is four-sided, and, like the leaves, it is covered with fine hairs.
The Biting Stonecrop is common all over Britain. It is abundant in summer on rocks and in sandy places by the seaside, and you find it growing inland too.
The Stonecrop grows in large tufts close to the ground. It is a small plant with a great many little branches, and these branches are of two kinds. Some are thickly covered with fat, juicy leaves. These leaves are very tiny, and they are laid thickly all round the stem in the same way as the scales are laid on a fir-cone. Those leaves nearest the end of the branch are often tinged with red.
On the other branches of the Stonecrop the fat green leaves are not nearly so closely packed together, and near the end of each branch grow two or more flowers.
These flowers are golden yellow, and they have five pointed petals which resemble the rays of a star, and there are ten yellow stamens lying flat out, on and between these petals.
In the centre of the flower you see five fat little seed-vessels standing up. After the yellow petals have all fallen off, these seed-vessels lie down and show five points like a small green star.
The Yellow Bedstraw is to be found all over the country. It grows in pastures, and on the hedge-banks, and it is in flower all summer and autumn.
There is a white bedstraw as well as a yellow, and you will often find great masses of both growing like a carpet on the grassy hedge-banks. The stems of the Yellow Bedstraw are not strong, although they grow to a great length, and the plant is usually lying in a tangled mass near the ground.
The flowers are very tiny. They grow in dense clusters. Each cluster has a short stalk which branches opposite another stalk on the main stem. The flowers have four petals and four stamens, and these stamens have almost no stalks. They look just like dots lying on the yellow petals.
The leaves of the Yellow Bedstraw are very tiny. They resemble small green straps, and they grow in circles, with eight to ten leaves in a circle round the main stem, close to where the flower clusters grow. You also find a circle of leaves growing on the short stalks which hold the clusters of flowers. These tiny leaves are hairy underneath.
The Mugwort, or Wormwood as it is often called, is common all over the country. It grows in waste places and by the borders of the fields, and it blooms in autumn.
You will easily recognise this plant by its greeny-white woolly flowers, with their yellow or red centres. These flowers grow in short clusters, and each little woolly head is made up of a number of separate flowers shaped like tubes. These yellow or red tubes are grouped together as in the Daisy.
The stem of the Mugwort is pale green, and has red ridges running from end to end. The leaves are very handsome. They are large and broad and feather-shaped, with big leaflets in pairs opposite each other on the stem, and there is always a single long leaflet at the end. Each of these leaflets is deeply cut round the edges into large teeth.
The back of the Mugwort leaves is covered with silvery white down, and often the green edges are curled back on to this white underside.
There are pages on each of these plant species with much more information for adult visitors Just click on the relevant content box above and scroll down to view.