Hum­ble net­tle proves pop­u­lar

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - COUNTRYFILE - by Owen Leyshon of the Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project

I WROTE about bum­ble bees last month and how im­por­tant it is for the queen bum­ble bees in the early spring to find enough flow­er­ing plants. Or­na­men­tal heathers I have no­ticed in a gar­den on my way to work have been very pop­u­lar with the bees, but one of the best and na­tive plants to be found in the wider coun­try­side is the white dead net­tle. This plant re­lies on bum­ble bees for pol­li­na­tion and the plant has adapted it­self to help the bum­ble bee. The plant has large white hooded flow­ers form­ing a char­ac­ter­is­tic ring around the plant. The flower has two lips which al­lows the bees to land eas­ily and as the bees probe into the flower they brush against the sta­mens. The bee is now cov­ered in pollen, and they get their re­ward by reach­ing the healthy sup­plies of nec­tar at the bot­tom of the flower tube. The leaves are sim­i­lar to sting­ing net­tles and are coarsely toothed and most im­por­tantly they do not sting if touched, which is why it is called a dead net­tle. This com­mon way­side plant is found on road­sides and rough ground in grassy mar­gins across Bri­tain. Next time you stand next to a clump of white dead net­tle this spring it should not be long be­fore a bum­ble bee flies along and starts feed­ing from the plant.

The white dead net­tle

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