Wednesday, 22 June 2016

30 Days Wild day 8- Wildflower identification

Wildflowers are one of many things which I know far less about than I'd like to. So, I decided that for today's #30DaysWild I would take inspiration from the 30 Days Wild website and app, and try to identify a wildflower species which I've been wondering about for weeks.

The walk between my house and university takes me past a shady area full of hawthornes and crab apple trees, and since mid spring it has been full of what I classed, in a vague sort of way, as 'something a bit like honesty (Lunaria annua).' 

I didn't really pay it much attention until it started flowering, when it became apparent it wasn't honesty at all. The flowers were far smaller, and left long seed heads, more like oil seed rape than the distinctive round disks of honesty. So I took some photos of the plants as I walked past them on my way back from university for a more thorough investigation.

The Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland has some fantastic online resources, including a brilliant identification key which I used for this. There are a series of questions on everything from where a plant was seen to if its leaves have stalks (or petioles) joining them to the stem. It them brings up a list of possible results, starting with the most common.

It turns out my mystery wildflower is Alliaria petiolata, also known as garlic mustard. 

  I really love the fact that so many resources like this are available online. While I'll always love bird books and old fashioned identification keys, tools like this make finding out about the natural world so accessible. At a time when there are serious problems engaging children with nature, that has to be a good thing. 

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