Nos­tal­gic smell of the 1970s

Stockport Express - - Wild Life -

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.

●●Win­ter­green flow­ers

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