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.
You find the Great Wild Valerian in most parts of Britain. It grows in marshy meadows and in damp woods, and is in flower all summer.
The Wild Valerian is a tall, handsome plant. It has small pale pink flowers, which grow in thick clusters on long, stiff green stalks rising from the main stem.
If you pull off a single flower you find that its five pink petals are joined together at the bottom into a tube. This tube folds back at its mouth into five pink scallops, and you can see three yellow-headed stamens coming out of the mouth of the pink tube. If you gently split the tube open you will discover that these stamens are clinging to its sides.
The green sepals of the Wild Valerian are also joined into a tube which has five teeth at the top, and after the pink petals are withered, this green tube sends up a tuft of beautiful feathery down.
The stem is dark and glossy. It is ribbed all over and is hollow inside.
In the Wild Valerian each leaf is divided into fingers, which grow in pairs on each side of a slender stalk. Sometimes there will be ten pairs of these little fingers, and you will notice that each finger is not placed exactly opposite its neighbour, but that they grow alternately.
The Small Bindweed or Convolvulus is common everywhere. You find it in the hedge-banks, on waste places and in fields, and it blooms all summer.
This pretty plant is very well known by its pale pink or pure white flowers. These flowers have a narrow tube which fits into the small green sepal-cup. But round the mouth this tube widens out into a beautiful bell, and the edges of the bell are gracefully waved all round. Inside the flower there are curious markings like large cream-coloured rays, and you must notice how wonderfully the flower of the Bindweed is folded when it is in bud.
The stem of the Bindweed is very curious. It is twisted like a piece of rope. This stem clings to any stronger plant within reach, and it will twist itself round and round that plant till it nearly chokes it.
The leaves are dark and shiny with smooth edges, and they are shaped like the head of an arrow. Each leaf has a short stalk of its own.
This is one of the handsomest of our wildflowers. It grows abundantly in woods, on banks and in fields, and it flowers all summer and autumn.
The Foxglove is a tall plant with a very stiff stem, from one side of which hang beautiful rose-pink and purple bells.
These fairy bells are daintily scolloped round the mouth, and the pale pink lining inside is dotted all over with purple spots. When you look down the mouth of a Foxglove bell you see that two long and two short stamens with large yellow-heads are clinging to its side, and rising from the centre of the bell there is a fat green seed-vessel which sends up a slender yellow thread.
Those bells which are nearest the bottom of the stem come out first, and the buds are always found at the top. Behind each bell there are five green sepals with sharp points, and wherever the flower-stalk joins the main stem there is always a small green leaf.
The Foxglove leaves are broad and long, and they are pointed at the end. Each leaf is covered with a network of fine veins. These leaves are grey-green in colour, and the underside is hoary with soft, white woolly down.
Image courtesy of Evelyn Simak geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0 license
The Broad-leaved Willow Herb is common in most parts of Britain. You find it growing on old walls, in woods and under hedges, and it blooms all summer and autumn.
It is a tall, thin plant, and has small pink flowers with four petals, each of which has a V-shaped notch cut in the outer edge. Behind these pink petals there are four narrow pointed green sepals, and within the flower grow eight stamens with tiny yellow heads. Amongst these stamens you can see the slender pillar which rises from the seed-vessel; it is divided at the top into four yellow rays.
The flowers grow singly, each at the end of a long thin pod which is slightly red in colour. When the petals and the green calyx fall off, this pod grows larger, and as soon as the seeds inside are ripe, it splits open into four strips, and each strip is lined with a row of small brown hairy seeds.
The leaves of this Willow Herb are oval, with pointed tips, and they are cut into sharp teeth all round the edge. These leaves are dark green, and usually they are smooth all over, but you sometimes find leaves which have hairs along the veins.
The stem is quite smooth, and it is red on the side which gets most sunshine.
The Corn Cockle is common everywhere. It grows in the cornfields, and you find its pink flowers all summer.
The flowers are large and handsome. In shape they are like a Primrose, but the petals are pale pink and each has a tiny notch in the outer edge. On these petals there are tiny lines of dark purple dots, like rays, which run from the centre of the flower almost to the edge of the petal. The heads of the stamens can only just be seen in the centre of the flower where the five petals meet.
Behind the pink flower there is a green calyx-cup marked with ten ridges, and at the mouth of this cup there are five narrow green teeth, which are so long they look like pointed leaves. These sepals are dark green inside, but the outside is pale green and woolly. You can see their sharp points standing out beyond each of the petals of the flower.
The stem of the Corn Cockle is stiff, and it grows very straight. Like the calyx-cup, it is covered with soft white wool.
The leaves grow in pairs on each side of the stem. These leaves are long and narrow, with pointed ends. Each leaf is dark green above, but the back is always pale grey-green and woolly.
This waxen Pink Heath is to be found all over the country. It grows best in damp places, and is in flower in late summer and autumn before the purple heather is fully out.
The flowers grow in clusters of from five to twelve at the top of the woody stem. Each cluster is made up of pale pink waxy bells, and the mouth of each small bell is edged with four pointed teeth. If you split open one of these pink bells, you will find inside a round green seed-vessel like a tiny pea.
There is a long green spike growing from the top of this seed-vessel, and you can see its point coming out of the mouth of the pink bell. There is also a ring of yellow stamens hidden inside the bell, and these grow close round the green seed-vessel.
The leaves of this Pink Heath are very small and pointed, and they have hairs along the edge. They grow in fours, and are placed crossways at short distances up the main stem. The edges are usually rolled back on to the woolly underside of the leaf.
The stem of the Cross-leaved Pink Heath is slender and wiry, and this pretty plant is never found growing in large bushes like the common heather. Sometimes the flowers are pure white.
The Blue Meadow Crane's-bill is one of our handsomest wildflowers. It is to be found by the edge of the fields and in the meadows all over Britain in summer and autumn.
This plant is related to the beautiful geranium which grows in our gardens. The flowers have five large petals. In front these petals are bright blue and are painted with tiny pink streaks. Behind, they are a delicate pale pink.
In the centre of the flower there is a ring of stamens, and within this ring is the seed-vessel.
There is a circle of green sepals behind the pinky-blue petals.
After the blue petals are withered you can see a long spike with a small star at the end coming out from among the sepals.
This spike has five seeds clustered round the bottom, and whenever these seeds are ripe, the spike splits into five fine hairs. Each of these hairs curls up to the top, carrying a seed with it. Then the five seeds are blown by the wind away from the slender hairs.
The leaves of the Blue Meadow Crane's-bill are beautifully shaped. They are like a hand with five thin fingers, and each of these fingers is deeply cut up all round the edges.
The stem of the plant is covered with rough, hairy bristles.
The Milkwort has flowers which are not always the same colour. You may find them either pink, or blue, or white, but I think the blue Milkwort is the commonest. It blooms all summer.
The flowers grow on spikes in which the buds are always at the top, and further down the same spike there are leaves. Each flower has five sepals. Three are only small green strips, but inside these three there are two which are large and broad, and beautifully coloured. These look like petals.
When the flower is withered these two sepals change colour and become green.
The real petals are paler in colour than the sepals. The lowest one is cut up at the end into little strips like a blue fringe, and there are two small side petals as well as two upper ones, which are so tiny that they are merely scales.
The leaves resemble narrow straps. They grow alternately on the stem, and they are dark green above and pale green below.
The Milkwort lies close to the ground among the grass. You would never notice it, were it not for its beautiful spikes of blue, pink-white flowers.
The Corn Flower or Blue Bottle is common all over Britain; you find it in the cornfields and by the roadside, and it flowers all summer and autumn.
This pretty plant belongs to the same family as the Thistles. The flower-heads are made up of a great many flowers grouped together. In the outer row you find a circle of beautiful bright blue flowers, each of which consists of a blue tube which widens out at the mouth like a trumpet, and is edged with seven sharp points.
Inside this outer circle there is a mass of darker blue flowers, slightly tinged with rose-colour. These flowers are very much smaller, and their pinky tubes are very tiny. So are the strap-shaped teeth at the mouth of the tube. Coming out of the mouth of each tube is the dark purple tip of the seed-vessel.
Underneath this bunch of flowers there is a double ring of green scales with fringed edges. These scales are tightly pressed together in the shape of a cup, but they are not prickly as in some of the Thistles.
The stems of the Corn Flower are very tough. The plant is tall and straggling, and it has narrow strap-shaped leaves with smooth edges. These leaves, as well as the stems, are often covered with white woolly down.
The Tufted Vetch is a very common plant, and all summer-time you find its masses of bright blue or purple flowers growing up the hedges. It belongs to the large family of Pea-plants, along with the Broom and the Trefoils, and you will find that its bright bluish-purple petals are shaped as curiously as those of the other Pea-plants.
Do not forget to look at the stamens. You will see that there is one stamen whose slender stem is not joined with the others, but has a separate stalk of its own.
The flowers grow in clusters on a stiff stalk; the buds are at the end of the stalk, and the flowers that grow lowest on the stalk always open first. When the flower is withered, the seed-vessel grows into a small green pea-pod which has a curly tail at the end, and when the seeds are ripe, this pod turns brown.
The leaves are made up of short pointed straps, set opposite each other in pairs on each side of a thin stalk. You will often find ten pairs of little straps, and at the end of the stalk there grow curly green threads called tendrils. This Tufted Vetch is one of these climbing plants which are not strong enough to stand alone; so these tendrils curl themselves round the twigs of the hedges, and this helps the plant to rise high above the ground.
The Wild Succory is abundant all over England, but is not so plentiful in Scotland. It grows by the borders of fields, in waste places or by the roadside, and it blooms in late summer and autumn.
The flowers are like large blue dandelions. They have no stalks, but grow from top to bottom of the main stem.
The flowers at the bottom of the stem come out first and the buds are always at the top. Each of these large blue dandelions is made up of a great many tiny tubes grouped together.
In the inner circle there are a great many blue tubes which have no strap, but in the outer circle the flowers have a broad blue strap at one side, and the end of this strap is cut into fine teeth. In the centre of each tube you see the tip of the seed-vessel standing up. It looks like a white thread with two curly points at the end.
The heads of the stamens are placed edge to edge and form a collar close round this white thread.
Behind the blue flowers there is a green calyx-cup of narrow strap-shaped leaves, with reddish-brown tips. There is always a large pointed green leaf where the flower-bud joins the main stem.
The leaves of the Wild Succory are rough and hairy all over, and are a grey-green colour.
The Bluebell or Harebell is one of our prettiest wildflowers. It is common all over the country on heaths and on pastures, and it blooms in late summer and autumn.
The five petals of the flower are joined together into a beautiful bell. This bell is divided round the mouth into five pointed scollops, and when you look into the mouth of the bell you can see the yellow heads of the five stamens and the three-cornered top of the seed-vessel.
The flowers grow singly, on many very slender stalks which branch from the main stem.
The green calyx-cup behind the Bluebell is curiously marked with raised lines. It is deeply divided into five sharp green points, which stand out like the rays of a star at the back of the Bluebell.
The leaves of the Harebell are of two kinds. Those that grow on the main stem, where the flower-stalks branch from it, are narrow and pointed. But the leaves that spring from the root are quite different.
They are nearly round, with edges which are cut into large teeth, and each leaf has a stalk.
This curious plant grows on sandy seashores in England, but it is not common in Scotland, and it will not grow far North.
The flowers grow in clover-shaped heads at the ends of very stiff stems. These flowers are very small, of a whitish-blue colour, and they are not at all attractive. If you examine one closely you find that the petals stand straight up, and each petal has a pointed beak which bends forward towards the centre of the flower. The stamens also curve inwards.
Outside this cluster of flowers there is a crowded mass of small green leaves, and each leaf ends in three short points. These leaves are a yellow-green colour, but all the rest of the flower is a beautiful grey-blue.
The stems of the Sea Holly are stiff, with ridges running up them, and the leaves have no stalks of their own, but grow in a circle of three or five, tightly clasping the main stem. These leaves are very smooth and thick. They are grey-blue in colour, with yellow-green patches between the veins, and they have very hard edges which are waved all round. Each of these waves ends in a sharp point.
The Sea Holly is quite as prickly as the Christmas Holly, and as it grows low down among the sands, bare-footed children must be careful not to stand on it.
This bright blue flower is to be found on banks, and in woods and pastures all over the country. It blooms in spring and early summer. Many people call this the Forget-me-not, but that is not correct, and you should notice carefully the difference between the two plants. They are not really alike.
The Germander Speedwell is a slender, wiry plant, whose stem sometimes creeps along the surface of the ground before it grows upward.
The flowers have four small petals of the brightest blue, and within the flower at the foot of the petals is a small white circle, like a little white eye looking up.
Two stamens with crimson heads rise from this white circle, and in the very centre of the flower there is a tiny green seed-vessel, with a spike coming out of the top.
The four sepals are very narrow green straps with sharp points.
The dark green hairy leaves are oval, with the edges cut all round like the teeth of a saw. They have no stalks, and they grow in pairs opposite each other. The slender stems, which bear the flowers in loose heads near the top, spring from between the leaf and the main stem.
The Brooklime Speedwell is quite as common as its cousin the blue Germander Speedwell, but it grows in damp places. You find it in ditches and beside slow-running streams, and the flowers are in bloom from spring to autumn.
The plant has a round juicy stem, which is hollow in the middle. It rises straight up from its muddy bed.
The flowers have four small petals which are a dull blue in colour, and are not very attractive.
In the centre of the flower there is a tiny blue ring, and to this ring are fastened the two red-headed stamens.
The seed-vessel is a small green dot with a spike at the top. It is so tiny that you can scarcely see it until the blue petals have fallen off.
Behind the flower there are four small green sepals.
The leaves of the Brooklime Speedwell are smooth and glossy. They are oval with blunt points, and the edges are waved. These leaves grow in pairs opposite each other, and have very short stalks which widen out at the foot so as to clasp the stem.
The flowers grow in loose heads on a long thin stalk, which springs from between the leaf and the stem.
Every child knows the pale blue Forget-me-not with its dainty flowers. It has many varieties which are found all over the country, but the Water Forget-me-not is one of the loveliest, and grows abundantly in ditches and marshes from spring to autumn.
It is a tall straggling plant, with long flower-stalks which grow singly on alternate sides of the stem. Those flowers nearest the bottom of the stalk come out first, and they soon fall off. The pink buds are always at the very top of the stem, and the full-open flowers are close below them.
Each flower has five small round blue petals which lie open like a wheel, and in the centre of the flower there is a bright yellow eye.
The stamens are hidden from sight in the small blue tube below the petals. So is the seed-vessel. There is a green calyx-cup which is hairy all over, and round the mouth it is edged with sharply pointed teeth.
The leaves of the Forget-me-not are long and narrow, with blunt points and smooth edges. They are as glossy as if they were wet, and they clasp the stem.
The lowest part of the stem is four-sided and hairy, and it creeps along the mud before it rises up to bear the leaves and flowers.
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