Bog star shines in the dunes

Accrington Observer - - WILDLIFE -

AF­TER the long, hot sum­mer peo­ple are al­ready com­plain­ing about the cold weather, which is lulling me into a feel­ing that win­ter is al­ready here.

It’s nowhere near win­ter yet. There are so many flow­ers still bloom­ing in our gar­den at the mo­ment – es­pe­cially our fan­tas­tic stand of sweet peas. And wild flow­ers are colour­ing the land­scape, too.

I was out on the dunes at St Annes over the week­end with 20 won­der­ful vol­un­teers. We were try­ing to im­prove the chances of rare plants grow­ing af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing fire over the sum­mer.

The prob­lem is that some of the plants that are now grow­ing on the rav­aged soil are quite com­mon while rar­i­ties are still hid­ing in the seed bank. So we were rough­ing up the sand to make it eas­ier for those plants to thrive next year.

De­spite that car­nage, plants like the Isle of Man cab­bage, which grows on the dunes, is show­ing in some ar­eas, although it is not as wide­spread as usual. In fact, we only saw one of two blooms blow­ing in the sea­side breeze. This plant is quite spec­tac­u­lar with its four-leafed yel­low flower, which can rise about a foot out of a rosettes of leaves, that ac­tu­ally look like rocket.

In be­tween the tea and cake stall and the fire site, I spot­ted some white flow­ers. These were grass-of-Par­nas­sus – and that is re­ally ex­cit­ing. I had heard of these beau­ti­ful flow­ers on one of our Pen­nine moor­land re­serves but I had for­got­ten they are also found on the dunes.

I think this was my first en­counter with a plant that we have in the north, but which has de­clined in the south.

Grass-of-Par­nas­sus is not a grass, it gets its name from the green stripes on its white flower. They are de­scribed as ‘ivory white’ by ex­perts and they sur­round a clus­ter of yel­low sta­men around the cen­tre. Around the base of the flower, dark green, heart-shaped leaves cup the stems. Once found through­out the UK, this flower is now con­fined to damp pas­tures, moors and marshes. It is known as the bog star and it flow­ers be­tween June and Septem­ber.

So while the flow­ers are still around in my gar­den and out in the coun­try­side, I refuse to ac­cept that win­ter is on the way.

The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 lo­cal na­ture re­serves. It has 29,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber, go lanc­ or call 01772 324129. For more about Cheshire Wildlife Trust, call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewild

Grass of Parn­sas­sus at St Annes

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