Paddy’s Blog

Elderberries

Hedgerow Bounty

Audio version of Hedgerow Bounty Elder flower (1) The flat-topped, creamy-white flower clusters or corymbs of the Elder (Sambucus nigra) or Trom in Irish formed lofty, fragrant tiers when they dominated the hedgerows in June.  These flowers were used to make wines, cordials and elderflower water which is used as a skin cleanser (1). Ripening…

Guelder rose

Blood-Red September Drupes

Audio version of Guelder rose Berries of Guelder rose (1) The attractive, juicy, shiny, red berries of Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) or Caorchon in Irish are a lovely sight now as they hang in inviting clusters from the hedgerows (1). These “berries” are technically drupes.  (A drupe is a fleshy fruit with a central seed…

Rose Hips

September Scarlet

Audio version of Rose Hips Dog-rose (1a) The beautiful, pale pink to white blossoms of the Dog rose (Rosa canina) or Feirdhris in Irish which brightened up the hedgerows in June have now turned to scarlet rose hips which are very noticeable. (1a;1b) These are rich in Vitamin C and were collected in England during…

Knapweed, Loosestrife and Nightshades

Autumn Purples

Audio version of Autumn Purples Common knapweed (1) Common or Black knapweed (Centaurea nigra) or Mínscoth/Mullach dubh in Irish is common on roadside verges, grasslands and wastelands from July to September. (1) Superficially the plant looks like a thistle because of its deep purple flowers and similar flowerhead but on close inspection it will be…

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Fliers from the Age of Dinosaurs

Audio version of Dragonflies and Damselflies These insects belong to a group called Odonata. They have long, thin segmented abdomens, striking colours and large wings with networks of delicate veins (1). They begin their lives as eggs laid on vegetation growing in water.  These hatch into larvae which do not pupate.  These are called nymphs. …

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Blushing Berries

Audio version of Blushing Berries  As August progresses into deep autumn berries tinted with pink and red begin appearing on the hedgerows.  Technically, some of these berries are drupes which are fruits with seeds that are like small stones such as those in holly “berries”.  These flushing colours will eventually change to strong reds, blacks…

Butterflies

The Large White Butterfly

Audio version of Butterflies Large white (1)  One of the commonest butterflies in Ireland is the Large white butterfly (Pieris brassica) or Bánóg mhór in Irish which is widespread during the months May to September.  The females have two black spots on the upper sides of each of their forewings and dark tips on these…

Pea-Flower Lookalikes

Bird’s-Foot Trefoil and Meadow Vetchling

Audio version of Pea-Flower Lookalikes Bird’s-foot trefoil (1) Bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) or Crobh éin corraigh in Irish is a member of the pea family. (1) Like all members of this family it adds fertility to the soil by harvesting nitrogen from the air and making it available in the soil for plants to use. …

Umbellifers

Umbrella Shaped Flowers

Audio version of Umbellifers – P Madden Wild carrot (1a) The descriptive word umbellifer is derived from the Latin word umbrella which means a sunshade or parasol. The flowers called umbels are held up by ribs like those on an umbrella.  Plants in this family generally have hollow, ribbed stems and divided leaves.  The roots…