Saturday June 23 2018

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In Full . . .

The dandelion detective

Posted on June 30 2017 at 3:17:46

June cover

I always look forward to collecting a copy of The Village from Barnt Green Post Office, and the June edition’s front cover was absolutely captivating!

It was obvious to me that it was NOT an “ordinary” dandelion, but what was it? 

Later in the week, walking between Upper Catshill and Lydiate Ash, I saw one “in the flesh”, and that was the spark to get me searching for the plant’s true identity.

Using The Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland’s website and following their “Identify a Plant” section, I came up trumps! 

I am delighted to have discovered that the plant shown on the front cover is Tragopogon pratensis. Common names are Goat’s Beard and Shepherd’s Clock.

I enjoy detective work, and I thought my findings would be of interest to other readers of the magazine. 

Shepherd’s Clock is an annual or biennial, and has a yellow, daisy-like flower with distinctive narrow bracts at the base of the flower. 

It only blooms in the early hours of the morning: at midday it closes up again.

The seed heads, when ripe, do look like an over-sized dandelion head, but they are much more robust than a common dandelion, and a striking sight with their long brown seeds attached to their “flying hairs”.

Next time you are out walking in the countryside, keep your eyes peeled for this gem of a wildflower!

P.S. The “mystery plant” that reader Dave Eckley would like to identify is Lamium galeobdelum.

Pam Chancellor, Lydiate Ash

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