Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) or Cranesbill or Ruithéal rí in Irish is quite a common plant and can be found on waste ground, walls, roadsides and hedges. (1) The triangular leaves are fern-like in appearance and can be tinged with red like the stems. It is pollinated by bees, beetles and flies. As the fruit part is developing it looks like a stork’s or a crane’s beak. There are different interpretations regarding the provenance of the name. It could have originated from the Latin, herba rubra, which means the red herb. The name could also have originated from St. Rupert who was an 8th century herbalist. The plant had many medicinal uses particularly for the treatment of bleeding, eye conditions and gout.
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) or Póirín sneachta which is frequently found in hedgerows also produces pink five-petalled flowers now.(2) This plant is a native of western America and was introduced to provide ground cover for gaming birds such as grouse and pheasant. Wasps have a fondness for its nectar. It produces round white berries in the autumn which are poisonous.
Red campion (Silene dioica) or Coireán coilleach in Irish produces its scentless deep pink flowers from May to July. (3) It is pollinated by bees mainly. It favours semi-shaded places. However, it is sometimes found in recently sown meadows. It is rare in most of the country except the North and East where it can be found frequently in localised areas.
Corncockle (Agrostemma githago) or Cogal in Irish is an annual that produces beautiful pink five petalled flowers now. (4) It has clear bee guidelines on the petals. It grows to about one metre. Once very common in cornfields, it was gradually eradicated by herbicides because its black poisonous seeds contaminated corn seeds. Nowadays it is available to buy in wildflower mixes.