Joining a botanical walk on Pinkneys Green recently brought home how it’s not just the obvious ‘pretty flower’ pollinators that are important for us, such as the Pyramidal and Bee Orchids we found. We also need to think about the less celebrated members of the plant world. They play a big and often unsung role.
So let’s hear it for nettles, docks, dandelions, ragwort, and all those umbellifers - Cow Parsley through to Hogweed (though not it’s non-native cousin Giant Hogweed). And remember plain old grasses. They all play really important parts in the bioabundance we need to regain. Dandelions, for example, seen by many to be the bane of the garden lawn, provide nutrition to many species of wildlife – butterflies, bumblebees, solitary and honey bees, hoverflies, day-flying moths, grasshoppers and much more – and that’s before we get to the mammals that feed on them. Nettles are home to several butterfly species larvae and also host large populations of various aphids and so are attractive to many predatory bugs, lacewings and ladybirds.
The rarest butterfly to be found on Pinkneys Green, the Small Blue, is totally dependent on Kidney Vetch for its survival. Ragwort suffers from a poor reputation among horse owners though it tends to be only if the plant is harvested in a hay crop, allowed to dry and then fed in significant quantities to horses. But as a living plant it is host to around 70 different species, including the very beautiful cinnabar moth (right).
This spectacular range of plants has survived through evolution because they have a role in nature: they are part of the food chain on which we all depend. We’d do well to remember that and not automatically banish them. Few of us will want a garden, or indeed a countryside, given over to nettles or docks but, if you can, find a space to let them thrive. It’s easy too to learn more about the good side to these plants: there is a wealth of information online.
As we enter the high summer period we’ll be seeing less of our birds but it’s a great time for insects, butterflies, dragonflies and much more as well as the plants on which they feed. WildCookham has several events listed below for you to enjoy these: you can book a place on any of them on our Meetup site (www.meetup.com/WildCookham).
Book now for:
2nd July Butterfly walk at Maidenhead Thicket
4th July What’s about at Odney?
8th July Glow worm Evening Safari
25th July What’s about at Odney?
Plus you can volunteer to help with many of our projects - our glow worm survey, water vole project, pond surveys, hedge surveys and planting, wild flower meadow seeding and seed collection – and much more. Contact email@example.com. We need your help – and it’s fun!