May – what’s out and about

The Green-winged orchid Orchis morio is seen here on a golf course on the Great Orme, a grassy habitat with base rich soils along the coast of north Wales. It can also be found on sand dunes and ancient hay meadows. The Bumblebee Bombus sylvarum acts as its polliator.


Wild cotoneaster Cotoneaster cambricus is restricted to the Great Orme where only 6 wild plants remain. Recently cuttings have been taken and 30 plants reintroduced. Its flowers never fully open. It does not regenerate from seed or vegetatively but self-fertilises hugely limiting its distribution and isolation.

Bloody cranesbill Geranium sanguineum. This plant has bright crimson flowers and is a classic plant of limestone grasslands and rocky places. Its name sanguineum derives from the Latin word for ‘blood’.



Spring cinquefoil Potentilla tabernaemontani. This rare plant is one of the first cinquefoils to flower growing on shallow soils over limestone outcrops. It was found here on a rocky outcrop during a venture onto the Great Orme.



Ramsons Allium ursinum. The woodland wild garlic. This is an impressive and unmistakable plant often forming large stands. The leaves are eaten and have a milder than expected flavour and have also been used in salads, stews and soups.


Male catkins seen here on Sessile Oak Quercus petraea. The female flower is less conspicuous although the fruit (acorn) that it develops into is widely known. Sessile oak and Common Oak (Q robor) are native to Britain. Sessile oak is commonest in the north and west. The two species hybridise readily (Q x rosacea) and this can be commoner than its parents.

Cuckoo flower / Lady smock Cardamine pratensis. This is a plant of damp grasslands, ditches and riverbanks. It name is derived from its flowering coinciding with the the arrival of the cuckoo. The Smock may be a reference to a less than complimentary slang for a woman and there may be an allusion in its name to what went on in the spring meadows.

A significant woodland springtime plant is the Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. They open beneath the leafless trees making good use of the strong light levels. Britain contains a large proportion of the world’s population of Bluebells and it finds suitable protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.




Scaly male fern Dryopteris pseudomas. This is found throughout Britain, usually on acid soils in woods and on scree. Its stem is densely covered with bright orange scales. The rocky oakwoods of Snowdonia have a variety of ferns especially where grazing pressure is low. The damp and shaded conditions favour ferns where competition from flowering plants is low.

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