Humble nettle proves popular
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