Nostalgic smell of the 1970s
I REMEMBER sitting at rugby league matches in the 70s.
I don’t remember much about the matches, except the odd 26-man fight and one of my heroes biting an opponent and getting banned.
I do, however, remember the smell. This was wintergreen. It had a smell of its own and, certainly at Station Road – home of Swinton RLFC – it made your eyes water as the teams came out.
I even tried some myself when I played at school, it didn’t make me play any better but its stinging oils were a great defence against the freezing cold.
One games teacher even made us kneel in the snow as forwards charged towards us.
Wintergreen was no barrier to that ‘learning experience’.
So imagine my surprise when I was told that a delicate, lovely flower I was looking at the other day was a wintergreen.
This rare flower is one of those that you have to spend a bit of time identifying.
I took advice on whether it was a roundleaved or an intermediate, both are really rare in the UK and really, really rare in the region.
Our officers informed me that this was, in fact, a round-leaved variety, however, we are not convinced it is the stuff used for wintergreen oil.
There are lots of species of wintergreen and native American Indians used its leaves as a tea to decrease the symptoms of rheumatism, headaches, fever, aches and pains.
And if you see someone chewing gum in the United States there is a good chance that it will be flavoured by wintergreen oil.
It has a lovely white flower with a red ‘style’ protruding from orangey bits in the middle of the flower.
Flowers line the long stems rising out of green leaves.
When you get close they are really intricate flowers, not like your average rugby forward.
It was also interesting to see that a lot of these plants had not yet flowered in late summer.
Generally as I walk around the region there are a lot of blooms adding some real colour, most of these being native plants providing food sources for our bees, butterflies and other insects. »●To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070.