Jeremy Hastings: Spring has arrived and the geese are gone. Green grass is abundant - well early and the lambs gambol in the meadows. It is warm save for a chilling easterly that started to blow this week. Arctic Terns have started to come in - I love them and their acrobatics too. Soon the air will be filled with new summer noises, different light and smells too.
Plants begin to shoot too, we notice primarily the primrose and lesser celandine, both yellow and sunlike. Interestingly enough in some parts of the world Lesser Celandine is a weed! (Gaelic - GrÃ¡n ArcÃ¡in Latin family: Ranunculaceae) Lesser Celandine is one of the first flowering plants to appear at the end of the winter (February to May). The plant itself is small (5-30cm tall) with dark, heart-shaped leaves. The flowers, which appear on a short stalk, form a carpet of yellow stars in woodland and bogland edges (more common on Islay), under hedgerows, in ditches and along streams.It is found on damp soils in the pH range of 4 to 8, but is more commonly found in pHs of 6 to 6.5. Lesser Celandine is an important early nectar source but, in wet and windy weather, the petals close. Continue reading......However, Lesser Celandine is an herbaceous, perennial plant and is part of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Plants have a basal rosette of dark green, shiny, stalked leaves that are kidney-shaped to heart-shaped. The flowers open in March and April, and have 8-12 glossy, butter-yellow petals that are 1 inch wide, and are borne singly on delicate stalks that rise above the leaves. Pale-colored bulblets are produced along the stems of the above- ground portions of the plant, but are not apparent until late in the flowering period. The root system is made up of a cluster of tuberous roots. When in bloom, large infestations of lesser celandine appear as a green carpet with yellow dots, spreading across the shady and sometimes wet field edge floor. This plant reproduces by seed and underground bulbous tubers. Interestingly it was know as pilewort and used thus as a cure all for such. made into a poultice and rubbed on the accusing areas (ouch!). There is no evidence that it worked but like a lot of these these folklore medicines it obviously had some kind of efficacy to survive the old stories in order to be passed down from generation to generation! It was even mentioned by Shakespeare!
Other relevant Islay Wildlife and Birding Information Resources:
- Jeremy's News Blog
- Previous Islay nature reports By Jeremy Hastings
- Islay Seasonwatch by Teresa Morris
- Islay Birds blog by Ian Brook
- Islay Birder blog by John Armitage