Wildflowers on Benevenagh

Early Summer

Yellow Flag

A native perennial which grows in damp ditches and on marshy ground around the springs and water channels on the mountain.

Its name derives from the Greek for rainbow and symbolised resurrection. It is believed to be associated with the immortal Pharaoh Osiris and may have been the source of the French fleur-de-lys symbol.

In the past, its large seed pods were roasted to provide a coffee-like beverage. A beautiful flower.
Yellow flag
Iris pseudacorus
Hawthorn or May Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn or May

A widespread native shrub used with blackthorn and gorse as a hedging plant. Large tracts of Benevenagh are preserved Areas of Special Scientific Interest and are a wonderful sight in early summer with may and gorse blossom.

The May Tree was of importance in pre-Christian times as the sign of rebirth after winter and the blossoms were used to decorate maypoles and the headdresses of young maidens in numerous rites associated with fertility. There remain many superstitions regarding the hawthorn - for example, it is very unlucky to cut one down and it is extremely unlucky to bring the pungent-smelling blossoms into the house.

Large Birdsfoot Trefoil

Native perennial that likes to live with grass. It is larger than the earlier common version and is more widespread on the mountain.

Some samples can grow to a height of 70cm but they are often much smaller.
Birdsfoot trefoil
Lotus pedunculatus
Lady's Mantle Alchemilla filicaulis

Lady's Mantle

A native perennial with flowers which appear to be almost green.

It was thought in the past to aid conception if 'Lady's Mantle water is drunk for 20 days'. There is no research to show if this was successful.

Greater Stitchwort

A native perennial which grows in abundance along the sheltered banks of the roadsides. It has quite straggly growth which is supported by the grass.
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Early Purple Orchid
Orchis mascula

Early Purple Orchid

A native tuber producing beautiful roadside flowers which smell of tomcats. Its double tubers were prized in the past as an aphrodisiac. On Benevenagh it seems to be more widely spread on the eastern side of the mountain.


A common native perennial which grows as fast as it can along roads and ditches, opening its umbrella-like clusters of flowers.

The tubers are edible and were called 'nuts' by the children who dug them up. The name would indicate that these nuts were also attractive to foraging pigs.
Conopodium majus
The clover
Trifolium pratense

Red Clover

A native perennial which is widely loved by cows and bees alike.

It can grow to a height of 30cm - unless the yows and cows get there first, of course.

Common Vetch

A native annual inhabitant of the hedgerows - one of many differing types and colours of vetches - which can grow stems up to 1m long.
Common Vetch
Vicia sativa

Slender St John's Wort

A native perennial which is a beautifully elegant type of St John's Wort. Books have been dedicated to the uses of St John's Wort in medicine for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. It is also associated with the Knights of St John and the Crusades and was hung around the house to ward off evil.
St John's Wort
Hypericum pulchrum
Milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia

Heath Milkwort

A beautiful little native perennial, which, perversely enough, is more common here than the Common Milkwort. The name originates from Greek for much milk and the plant was believed to increase milk yield in animals.

The juice of milkwort was widely used as a treatment for warts - and those fairies (again) used it as soap.

Burnet Rose

This native shrub normally grows near coasts, but along our laneway it grows in profusion, with both pink flowering shrubs and white, wonderfully perfumed.

In early Autumn it produces striking black hips and is a tough little customer: one pink flowering bush had two perfectly-formed roses in full bloom on 1 December 2005.
Burnet Rose
Rosa pimpinellifolia

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