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.
The Meadow Sweet grows abundantly all summer by the side of streams and in damp places. Many a time its delightful scent has tempted us to gather it in handfuls.
The flowers are creamy white, and are very small, with a great many yellow stamens in the centre. They grow in large clusters on short branching stalks, and the buds look like tiny ivory balls set in small green cups. You often see two or more branched stalks which shoot high above the mass of open flowers, bearing a great many closed buds. When the flowers are withered, the five green sepals fold back against the stem.
The green leaves of the Meadow Sweet are dark and rough above, but underneath they are covered with white down. They have a central leaf-stalk, and on each side of the stalk grow a pair of big leaflets and a pair of small leaflets alternately. Sometimes two pairs of very small leaflets may come together, and at the end of the stalk you always find one big leaflet which has several points.
The stem of this plant is hard, and it has lines running from end to end. Where the flower-stalk and the leaf-stalk join this stem, you find a curious green sheath, which seems to clasp them all together, and this sheath has sharply cut edges.
The Wild Strawberry is common all over Britain. In early summer you find it in woods and on shady hedge-banks. This pretty plant is related to the Wild Rose. It has dainty little flowers, with five small white petals, and behind these petals is a star of ten green pointed sepals. Five of these sepals have large points which show in between the white petals as you look down into the flowers, and the five which are smaller you can only see at the back of the flower.
The stamens grow in a ring close round the seed-vessel, and as they are joined to the sepals, they do not fall off when the white petals wither.
As the fruit ripens, the seed-vessel swells into a bright red berry, and you can see the tiny yellow seeds clinging all over this juicy berry.
The green leaves of the Wild Strawberry are beautiful. They are dark and crinkled, with soft hairs on the edges, and these edges are cut into large teeth. There are always three leaflets at the end of each stalk.
This Strawberry plant sends out long green shoots which lie close to the ground. Wherever a tuft of leaves rises from one of these shoots, a little bunch of white roots grows down into the ground, and these help to keep the plant steady.
The dainty Wood Sorrel is common all over the country. It grows in damp woods and in shady places, and it blooms in spring.
The flowers grow singly at the end of slender pink stalks. They are large, and have five beautiful white petals, slightly tinged with pink. These petals are covered all over with fine veins, and when the sun shines on the plant they open out almost flat.
If you look closely at the bundle of yellow stamens in the centre of the flower, you will find that five are long and five are short.
Behind the white petals there is a tiny green cup, which is made up of five sepals joined together. The mouth of this cup is edged with five sharp points.
The leaves of the Wood Sorrel are very pretty. Each leaf has a slender pink stalk which springs straight from the root, and every leaf is divided into three delicate leaflets, which are pale green above, and a delicate pale pink below. These leaflets are heart-shaped, and before they have fully opened, they droop close to the stem.
If you taste one of the Wood Sorrel leaves, you will find it is bitter but not unpleasant.
This clinging plant is common everywhere. It grows abundantly on every hedge-bank, and it is in bloom all summer and autumn.
The flowers are so small that you scarcely notice them. Each flower has four tiny white petals, and four yellow-headed stamens. Behind the flower there is a ring of narrow pointed pale green leaves.
When the white petals fall off, you see two pale olive or dull purple seeds, shaped like little balls. These balls always grow in pairs, and they are covered with sharp, prickly hooks, which cling to everything they touch. You find them clinging to your clothes, and they get caught in the hair of a dog's back, and you see them sticking to the wool of the sheep who nibble at the hedge-banks.
The square stem of the Goosegrass is rather weak. It, too, has hooks on its four sides, and these hooks catch hold of stronger plants in the hedge-bank, and so help the Goosegrass to rise well above the ground.
The leaves are long and narrow, and they have little hooks along the edge. They grow in a circle of eight round the square stem, with a short space between each circle. You will notice that the stalks which bear the tiny white flowers spring from the same part of the main stem as the leaf circles.
The sweet-smelling Woodruff is common all over the country, and when dried its perfume is like new-mown hay. It grows in woods and on shady hedge-banks, and it flowers in early summer.
The flowers are small and white, with four petals which stand round the mouth of a tiny tube. Inside this tube are four yellow-headed stamens, and there is a small green sepal-cup in which the white tube stands. The flowers grow in clusters at the end of the main stem. They do not rise from each circle of leaves as in the Goosegrass. The tiny seeds are black, and each seed is thickly covered with soft bristles, which are hooked at the end.
The ridged stem of the Woodruff is often a dull red colour. This stem is very feeble, so the Woodruff is usually found lying in a tangle along the ground. It has not so many hooks as the Goosegrass with which to catch hold of other plants, and so raise itself.
The leaves grow about an inch apart on the stem, in beautiful circles. In each circle there are eight narrow leaves which are pointed at the end. The circles nearest the foot of the stem lie flat open like a rosette, but those that are further up are usually half closed, with all their points standing upwards.
The Yarrow or Millfoil is a very common plant all over Britain. It grows on waste ground and in the corners of fields, and it is in flower in late summer and autumn.
It is one of the daisy plants, and you must look at it carefully. The flowers grow in clusters, three or four together, at the end of stalks which branch from the main stem. They are white, and look like tiny daisies. You must pick one of them gently to pieces, and then you will find that each daisy is really made up of a great many small flowers crowded together on a disc. The outer flowers consist of a white tube, with one long white strap, and there is a row of these white straps standing out like a frill round the yellow centre. Inside this white border there are a great many tiny yellow tube flowers, with five points at the mouth of each tube, but these you will not see without a microscope.
Outside this mass of flowers grows a ring of small green leaves, which are closely packed together and are very woolly.
The stem of the Yarrow is stiff and smooth and is slightly tinged with red. The leaves are long and narrow, and each leaf is made up of many tiny pairs of leaflets placed opposite each other on the stem. Each leaflet is cut up into many divisions, so that the whole leaf is light and feathery like a small fern.
Image courtesy of Evelyn Simak geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0 license
The handsome Ox-eye Daisy is common all over Britain. You find it in flower from summer to the end of autumn.
It is a plant with a tall, stiff stem that has ridges running from top to bottom.
Notice how different its leaves are from those of the small Daisy, though both plants belong to the same family.
The flowers in the Ox-eye Daisy are very large. The yellow tube flowers in the centre are crowded together on a flat disc, and outside this disc there is a double ring of tiny white tubes, each of which has one broad white strap. These straps form the beautiful border to the flower.
At the top of the green flower-stalk there is a double ring of narrow green pointed leaves. When the flowers are in bud they look like thick green buttons, with a yellow spot in the middle, as these green leaves are tightly folded in a circle round the flat yellow centre.
The leaves are straggling and very poor-looking for such a handsome plant. They are feather-shaped, with the edges deeply cut up into many blunt points. They have no stalks of their own, but spring from the main stem.
This well-known plant is to be found all over Britain. It is in flower from spring to late autumn, and I think it is the first flower little children learn to recognise.
But it is often a long time before they get to know anything more about the Daisy than its name, and yet it is an interesting flower, as well as a pretty one.
If you gather a Daisy, and then gently pick it to pieces, you find that it is made up of a great many tiny little flowers crowded together on a pear-shaped centre. These tiny flowers are of two kinds; those in the centre are yellow and are shaped like little tubes, each of which is edged with five points. But in the outer row of flowers, one of the five points has grown into a long white strap, which is tinged with pink and red at the tip.
These pretty white straps are arranged in a double frill round the yellow centre.
At the end of the flower-stalk there is a thick ring of small green pointed leaves, and these, as well as the stalks, are slightly hairy.
The Daisy leaves grow in a rosette close to the ground. They are oval, and each leaf has hairs all over it and round the edges.
This daisy plant is very common too. It grows all over Britain, and is in flower from June till October.
It is not such a stiff, handsome plant as the Ox-eye Daisy, but much more branched and bushy, and it often grows close to the ground. The stalks are tougher, and they are quite smooth, with fine ridges running up them.
The flower-heads are made up in the same way as those of the other daisy plants. You find a mass of tiny yellow tubes in the centre, and forming a border round this yellow centre is an outer ring of flowers, each with one large white strap.
When the Mayweed begins to wither, these white straps droop towards the stalk, and the yellow centre, instead of remaining nearly flat, becomes the shape of a thimble. You will find many of these yellow thimbles on the plant, after all the white straps are gone.
The tips of the green leaves, which grow in a double ring behind the flowers, are often tinged with pink.
The leaves of the Scentless Mayweed are like many leaves that grow in running water. They are divided into a tangle of fine hair-like points, which spring directly from the main stem without any stalk.
The modest Snowdrop, with its graceful, drooping head, grows abundantly all spring in meadows and pastures and orchards in England and Scotland. It is not so common in Ireland.
The flower is enclosed in a grey sheath, edged with bright green lines. After the flower bursts out of the sheath, it droops from the end of a slender flower-stalk. Each flower has six white petals; the three outer petals are boat-shaped towards the tips, and there are three shorter petals which are not curved. These straight petals have a notch cut in the upper edge, and there is a bright green wavy stain just below this notch.
Inside these dainty white petals are six yellow-headed stamens with scarcely any stalks. These stamens stand on the flat round top of the seed-vessel, and in the centre rises its short, pointed pillar.
Notice that the oval green seed-vessel is outside the circle of white petals, at the top of the slender flower-stalk.
A single pair of leaves rise from the Snowdrop root, with the flower-stalk between them. These leaves look like short straps with blunt points. They are bluey green in colour, and have deep grooves running from base to tip.
This beautiful starry plant is found in many places in England and in a few in Scotland, but not in Ireland. It grows in meadows and pastures and orchards in early summer.
The flowers grow singly on long stalks which branch near the top of the main stem. There is always a withered-looking brown leaf at the base of each flower-stalk.
The flowers have six large white petals, which are pointed at the tips. The back of each petal is stained with bright green, except round the edge, where it remains white.
There are six yellow-headed stamens clinging to the base of the white petals. These stamens stand up in a circle round a fat green seed-vessel which sits in the centre of the white petals. This seed-vessel has a tiny pointed column in the middle.
The leaves of the Star of Bethlehem are very narrow. From the middle each leaf tapers to a long point. These leaves are deeply channelled, and they have a broad white stripe running down the centre.
This unpleasant-smelling plant is common all over the country, except in the North of Scotland. It grows in woods and copses and on hedge-banks, and it blooms in early summer.
Each flower grows on a short stalk, in a loose cluster at the end of a stout juicy stem. When in bud these flowers are all enclosed in a brown sheath, which bursts open in two pieces as soon as the flowers are ready to expand.
Each flower has six narrow white pointed petals, opening flat out like a star. There is a short yellow-headed stamen clinging to each of these white petals. In the centre of the flower, among the white petals, is a green seed-vessel, which is divided into three small oval balls. A slender pillar rises from amongst these small seed-balls.
There are no sepals in this flower.
The leaves of the starry-white Ransoms are not unlike those of the Lily of the Valley. They have long lines running from base to tip, and are a delicate pale-green in colour.
In all parts of the country this slender, graceful plant is abundant. You will find it growing on damp banks and on the mountain side, and it blooms throughout the summer.
The flowers are cup-shaped, and they grow singly on short stalks which branch from the main stem near the top. Each flower has five white petals streaked with fine veins.
Within the petal-cup there is a ring of ten stamens with yellow heads, and in the centre of the flower you can see a green seed-vessel like a small pear, with two wavy points coming out of the top.
Behind the white petals you find a tiny green calyx-cup, made up of five little sepals. These sepals are joined together at the bottom, but round the mouth of the cup the five points stand up separately.
The reddish-green stems are slender and wiry. They have single, little leaves growing up them, with a short space in between each leaf.
Only some of these stems have flowers at the top. Others end in a tuft of leaves, and never bear any flowers. These leafy stems are clothed with leaves all the way to the tip, and each leaf is very small and narrow. At the end the leaf is divided into three small fingers, and these fingers, as well as the stem, are covered with dark hairs
It is a great delight to discover this dainty plant. It is not very common, but in summer and autumn you find it blooming on heaths in many parts of the country.
The Wintergreen flowers are not unlike Lily-of-the-Valley. They are delicate, creamy white bells, which hang from short drooping stalks near the top of a slender stem.
These bells have five ivory petals slightly tinged with pink, which form a dainty fairy cup.
Within the cup there is a ring of ten stamens with heavy yellow-heads, clustered round the tip of the green seed-vessel. This green tip rises in the centre, like a slender pillar, a good way above the stamens.
Behind the ivory cup is a green star, with five points. These points are the sepals. Notice that wherever a flower-stalk joins the main stem a tiny pointed green leaf appears.
The soft juicy stem is twisted near the top and is four-sided. It grows straight from the root.
The dark glossy leaves of the Wintergreen are spoon-shaped, with wavy edges. They spring from the ground with very short stalks, and they remain on the plant all winter.
This water-loving plant is very common all over the country in marshes and bogs and by the sides of ditches. It blooms in summer.
The plant is easily recognised by its round leaves. These have wavy edges, and fine green veins running from the centre of the leaf to the edge.
The stalk is fastened exactly underneath the centre of the leaf, and it is soft and juicy and covered with fine hairs.
The flowers of the Pennywort are greenish-white, tinged with red. These flowers grow in little clusters of three or four together at the end of short stalks which spring from the root, close beside the leaf-stalk. But these flower-stalks are so short, and the flowers are so small, you recognise the round leaves long before you discover that there are any flowers.
The Pennywort is one of those plants with a creeping stem, which lies along the surface of the ground. The stem is a delicate, pale pink, and wherever a bunch of flowers and leaves rises, you find a tuft of white, hair-like roots growing down into the mud.
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.