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It looks as if this June is going into the records as the wettest ever in the UK – however, nature takes it all in its stride – some things suffer and some things do better. Umbillifers and ferns and the ubiquitous and insidious bracken seem to be thriving – all working to hide the most recent flush of hedgerow flowers.
The Spires of June are the lovely-to-look-at foxgloves, Digitalis pupurea. Lovely – but both highly poisonous and a very important medication. In some unfortunate cases, foxglove leaves have been mistaken for comfrey leaves (which are a similar shape and texture before the flowers appear) and made into a ‘tea’ – with deadly consequences. Digitalin is used to treat heart conditions and has been for centuries, described in medical literature as early as 1785. Dioxigenin, found solely in the leaves and flowers of foxgloves, is a steroid used as a molecular probe to detect DNA and RNA.
In June these bedeck our hedgerows, large enough to stand proud from all the other foliage, especially in a June like this has been.
A much humbler, and perhaps overlooked, spire of June is the flower-spike of the Wall Pennywort (or Navel-wort or Penny-Pies).
The names for this plant are so descriptive – the round, penny shaped leaves have a central dimple – like a belly-button and are edible. You can see where each local name for Umbilicus rupestris comes from. Many people do not even associate the white flower spikes with the flat round leaves noticed much early in the year as the leaves seem to shrink when the spikes reach their maximum.
And a cutie shot of one of the little billy goats enjoying the long grass. nom-nom The whole herd seem to be swimming as they wade through the long grass in the field – grass which has grown like crazy due to the extra wet, yet warm, June.
And finally – a photograph of one of our garden plants in flower – it produces fruit for us each year – though you might not expect to see one growing and fruiting so well in the UK. Any idea what it could be? Post your answers in the comments – the first correct one will get an copy of my novel ‘Some Kind of Synchrony’ (in pdf format) Want to know what Some Kind of Synchrony is about – click this LINK to read the blurb and the first 3 chapters. Answer at the end of the month.
I hope you’ve enjoyed catching up with nature in our little corner of Cornwall. What has June been like where you are? There have certainly been some sets of extreme weather in all sorts of places this year. Do tell – I love to hear from you!