Supposedly the first flower – ‘prima rosa’ (in latin) – of the year. The flowering of the Primrose is taken by many as a sure sign that spring has arrived. In fact, spring as measured by average flowering times of a range of UK plants has advanced (i.e. is earlier) by between 2.2 and 12.7 days comparing 25 year periods since 1760. Global warming is thought to be the cause.
Primroses grow in a range of habitats including woods, hedge banks and neutral grasslands. In the Yorkshire Dales one of the most spectacular displays is on the edges of and within sunny glades at Oxenber and Wharfe Woods near Feizor.
Because it flowers relatively early, this is an important nectar-plant for Brimstone and Orange-tip butterflies and other early-flying insects
Similar-looking in leaf to the Primrose but should not be mistaken for it when in flower as the flower stalk bears several flowers and not just one, while the appearance of the flowers themselves is very different.
Where Primroses and Cowslips grow together they can produce a hybrid – called ‘False Oxlip’ that has Primrose-like flowers but many to a flower stalk. The False Oxlip is the ancestor of our garden Polyanthus bedding plant.
This member of the carrot family is common amidst rough grass where it grows up to 2 metres tall. Like many in its clan, Hogweed produces clusters (or ‘umbels’) of small, white flowers that make it appear to be sporting a parasol or umbrella. . The flowers are adored by many insects as a nectar-source and on sunny days a single plant may attract dozens of beetles, hoverflies and butterflies. When the plants die back in the winter the hollow stems provide shelter from many insects.
A giant, non-native version of this plant (Giant Hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum) can reach 3.5 metres in height and is found especially beside rivers.
The sap from Hogweed stems can cause skin blistering in sunlight, and the Giant Hogweed is particularly serious in this regard.
As its name suggests, the Pignut was once a foodstuff for pigs. But the plant which is sometimes called ‘earthnut’ was gathered and eaten by humans too. The pignut is one of the most common members of the carrot family to occur in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and it is the tuberous root of the plant which is edible.
The plant is widespread in meadows, pastures, woods and roadside verges. The dainty clusters of flowers appear during June and July and its appearance can cause a meadow or woodland to appear white from a distance.