Holton Hall Park

HHP Flora Foray with Graham Peck (June 2016)

Present: Linda and Chris Harris, Paul Jackson, Neil Mahler, Richard Fisk, Barry Edwards (Kali the dog) Gill Perkins, Paul Keyes, Sara Solnick, Leslie Lowe, Rachel Kellett, Sally Keyes

Nothing unusual this year, but a particular abundance of orchid – both the common spotted and the Twayblade – in areas once cut and bereft of orchid, and for the last 3 years deliberately left uncut until after their bloom. In the first year 3 appeared, last year year a half dozen, this year over 50 common spotted on the meadow near the entrance gates of HHP. It is encouraging evidence that orchids can recover.

The boys – Graham and Neil – turned up on their bikes. Leslie over from LA charmed the boys. Here she is with Paul and Neil and Barry.

Area 1 – Office/ Hard standing

Greter Willowherb – (square stem) Epilobium hirsutum (hairy)

St Johns Wort Hypericum, Perforate and Common. Medicinal herb with anti-depressant activity potent anti-inflammatory properties

Deschampsia cespitosa, commonly known as tufted hairgrass redish aura of seed heads

Alchemilla – Ladies Mantle – used to collect distilled water (not for car batteries) Family Rosaceae

Fungi Miller family – notice yeasty smell

Atea 2 Rabbit Playing field and through woodland

Twayblade orchid

Crosswort – bedstraw family – It’s name derives from the cross-like arrangement of its leaves along its stem. When in bloom they are filled with frothy yellow flowers that smell of honey.

Field Madder – Sherardia – small trailing plant that can be easily overlooked; however if examined in detail you will find it is an attractive little plant somewhat similar to a bedstraw with clusters of tiny pale lilac or pink flowers. It can be told apart from the bedstraws by the presents of a calyx and the colour of the petals.

Spurge Laurel – Daphne laureola –

Wild Privet – semi-evergreen shrub of hedgerows, woodland edges and grassland scrub on well-drained calcareous soils. Although the berries are extremely poisonous to humans, they are eaten by thrushes and other birds.

Enchanters nightshade – evening primrose family – The genus name comes from the enchantress Circe of Greek mythology and the generic designation is derived from Lutetia, the Latin name for Paris. Paris at one time was known as the “Witch City”. Despite its name it is not especially toxic, but contains a lot of the astringent tannin.

Dog Mercury Mercurialis perennis – thrives in damp shade, woodland floor. The plant’s common name derives from the plant’s resemblance to the unrelated Chenopodium bonus-henricus (Good King Henry, also known as mercury, markry, markery, Lincolnshire spinach). Since Mercurialis perennis is highly poisonous, it was named “dog’s” mercury (in the sense of “false” or “bad”). It has also been known as boggard posy.

Sequoia bark – thick with air pockets. Heat of fire opens and fall into an enhanced seed bed. Unusally adapted to forest fire. Giant Sequoias are among the oldest living things on Earth. Sequoia bark is fibrous, furrowed, and may be 90 cm (3.0 ft) thick at the base of the columnar trunk. It provides significant fire protection for the trees.

Ash bumps – on Ash Tree.

Area 3 Around Lake

Wood avon Geum urbanum also known as wood avens, herb Bennet, colewort and St. Benedict’s herb (Latin herba benedicta), is a perennial plant in the rose (Rosaceae) family

Lesser Stitchwort Stellaria graminea

Pink Vetch Securigera varia

Gypsy wort

Fig Wort

Fairy Flax

Perferated St Johns Wort

Agrimony – Agrimonia yellow – ‘Church Steeples’. The name Agrimony is from Argemone, a word given by the Greeks to plants which were healing to the eyes. The magic power of Agrimony is mentioned in an old English medical manuscript. Agrimony was one of the most famous vulnerary herbs. The Anglo-Saxons, who called it Garclive, taught that it would heal wounds, snake bites, warts, etc. In the time of Chaucer, when we find its name appearing in the form of Egrimoyne, it was used with Mugwort and vinegar for ‘a bad back’ and ‘alle woundes’: and one of these old writers recommends it to be taken with a mixture of pounded frogs and human blood, as a remedy for all internal haemorrhages. It formed an ingredient of the famous arquebusade water as prepared against wounds inflicted by an arquebus, or hand-gun, and was mentioned by Philip de Comines, in his account of the battle of Morat in 1476. In France, the eau de arquebusade is still applied for sprains and bruises, being carefully made from many aromatic herbs. It was at one time included in the London Materia Medica as a vulnerary herb, but modern official medicine does not recognize its virtues, though it is still fully appreciated in herbal practice as a mild astringent and tonic, useful in coughs, diarrhoea and relaxed bowels. By pouring a pint of boiling water on a handful of the dried herb – stem, leaves and flowers – an excellent gargle may be made for a relaxed throat, and a teacupful of the same infusion is recommended, taken cold three or four times in the day for looseness in the bowels, also for passive losses of blood. It may be given either in infusion or decoction.


Sulphur clover – Trifolium ochroleucon – The sulphur clover used to be a characteristic plant of meadows and unimproved pastures in East Anglia but has been all but banished to road verges and railway banks. We could make up for this by planting it in informal garden meadows.

Ladies Bedstraw Galium verum – In the past, the dried plants were used to stuff mattresses, as the coumarin scent of the plants acts as a flea killer. The flowers were also used to coagulate milk in cheese manufacture and, in Gloucestershire, to colour the cheese double Gloucester. The plant is also used to make red madder-like and yellow dyes. In Denmark, the plant (known locally as gul snerre) is traditionally used to infuse spirits, making the uniquely Danish drink bjæsk.

Yellow rattle

Vetchling – two varieties, yellow Vetchling – increasinly scarce and Lathyrus hirsutus (Hairy Vetchling), with purple/pink flowers and distinctive hairy pods.

A field of Dyers greenweed – cannot remember seeing so much before.

Lunch at the van afterwards – French style bread and cheese

July 2016

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