Hogweed (and cow parsley)

Hogweed is taking over the verges and woodland edges. 


The good news is, there’s nothing wrong. At around the same time Cow Parsley goes to seed and its delicate white flowers fade, it is succeeded by its cousin, hogweed. 


Both are members of the carrot and parsley family; and by far their most common members in the British countryside. 


I was at the Bushcraft Show this weekend and found the two growing together in a hedgerow. The Cow Parsley is at the end of its flowering period, the Hogweed at the start. 

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that Cow Parsley has more delicate, feather-like leaves, Hogweed’s are more robust, thicker and larger. 

There are nearly forty members of the carrot family growing wild in Britain. Thirty of them look very similar. Some have irritants in their sap and some are poisonous; some are delicious wild food. This makes them a very useful group to know; but to know well. 

I’ll be adding posts about the different members of this family as I encounter them over summer. 

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Heathland Heather Burns

Burning wildlife’s home doesn’t sound like conservation. 


I was on the Long Mynd, a hill covered by upland Heath in Shropshire, last week. 


On the hill plateau, the National Trust has been burning areas of heather for years. 

Rather than destroying the habitat, by clearing aging heather this way, the conditions are created where new growth of heather and bilberry can begin. 


By managing the heath this way, conservationists are creating a mix aged heather covering, providing a better habitat for wildlife from grouse to butterflies.