Sunday, 22 January 2012

Angela's top 20 wild flowers; Number 20 is Ribwort Plantain

As a child, I used to love going for walks with my Grandmother, Nanny Brown, who would encourage me to take note of what was growing beside the footpath and in the woods. As I grew up,  I became distracted by homework, ponies, Young Farmers, weddings, children, etc and wild flowers were pushed to the back of my mind. But since Q Lawns launched Meadowmat last spring, I've revived my interest in wild flowers and I've enjoyed re-learning their names, finding flowers that didn't grow in the hedgerows around Brickendon and of course remembering how simple life was back then. 

It's been soooo difficult putting together a top twenty chart of my favourite wild flowers and there are lots and lots of runners up.  But here goes.

Number 20: Ribwort Plantain



plaintain viewed from above - not so plain after all!
This is one plant that I've only really noticed in the past 6 months.  It seems pretty unremarkable really.  It's not showy, or fragrant or outstanding in any way. In the lawn, it's an undesirable; it doesn't have much nectar but the seedheads remain for most of the winter and are eaten by sparrows and dunnock. BUT there are a number of moth caterpillars that rely on plantains for food.

Why do I like plantains?  well,  my daughter has two baby tortoises to care for, they're too young to hibernate and they need fresh foliage all through the winter. Rhonda and Hermione are not allowed "Supermarket greens" because apparently they don't have the right balance of nutrients and so I have become hunter gatherer for a couple of reptiles.  Ribwort plantain and Yarrow are just about the only wild plants on the "safe for tortoises to eat" list that are easy to find in January, hence, they are both in the top twenty.

Plantains remind me of a certain kind of person, there's one in nearly every organisation.  Whatever the occasion they'll be there, but they're rarely noticed and even more rarely appreciated for what they have to offer.  Another elderly relative had a favourite saying "squeaky gate gets the oil" meaning those who make the most noise get the most attention, but the quiet, nay seemingly insignificant ones, could well be the most useful


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