Wildflowers on Benevenagh



A very common native annual which grows on banks on the mountain. A shady hedgerow produces pale green leaves, but if the plant is in a sunny, dry spot, the leaves turn a glorious red. This tiny geranium is linked to ancient superstitions and folklore and was widely associated with fairies - especially hobgoblins, bad luck and death. Another association is with St Rudbert who had the power to heal wounds.

The latter proposition seems completely to negate that goblin theory.
Geranium robertianum
A bramble blossom Rubis fruticosis


A native shrub which is common in hedgerows. The long thorny stems love to grow across narrow lanes and can swat like a triffid. The flowers are white or pink. In Autumn it produces the blackberries so beloved of jelly and wine makers but you can't beat the fruit fresh off the bush for taste.

People have eaten blackberries for centuries, therefore folklore abounds with stories: for example, warnings of the devil's spit on berries after a certain date.

Autumnal Hawkbit

A common native perennial which gives colour and beauty to the autumn banks and tracks. It is very similar to Cat's Ear.
A cooler, wetter summer seems to favour its spread as the banks along the mountain this autumn (2007) are yellow with it.

Autumnal Hawkbit Leontodon autumnalis
Chickweed Stellaria media


A very common annual weed which infests the place and can grow at a surprising rate. It has beautiful, starry flowers which few people see in their haste to pull it out before it spreads.

I may be wrong, but I have never actually seen a chicken eat this stuff.


A native annual which will thrive on practically any bare patch of soil. It is looked upon as a weed (probably with justification) but can produce several 30 cm stems from a central root, each stem spiralled with little jewel-like flowers.
Knotgrass Polygonum aviculare
Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus repens

Creeping Buttercup

This native perennial can stalk its way across fields and stony ground, sinking new roots as it goes. It was a belief that if buttercups were rubbed into a cow's udder, it improved the milk. The fact that the cow ate the buttercups probably wasn't considered important in this theory.

Knotted Pearlwort

A native perennial which grows above the high-water mark on the bank of our wildlife pond. It opens its lovely little flowers only when the sun shines. Its tiny fruits look like seed pearls.
Knotted Pearlwort
Sagina nodusa
The healer
Stachys palustris

Marsh Woundwort

A native perennial that can grow up to 80cm. As the name implies, this is a medicinal plant which was once used to heal cuts and other wounds.

We have no report as to the effectiveness of this treatment, though it lends new meaning to the old custom of bringing flowers when you visit the sick.


An introduced shrub, common in many hedgerows and very popular with local bees, which in turn produce tasty honey. In autumn the fuchsia turns the hedgerows and mountain tracks red with blossoms.
Fuchsia magellanica
Stinging Nettle
Urtica dioica

Stinging Nettle

A common and unwelcome native perennial which can deliver very painful stings. Fortunately, the nettle usually shares its habitat with Docks - local name Dockin. Rubbing a dockin leaf on the sting rash releases sap which eases the pain.

When we were stung as children at play, we sang 'dockin in, nettle out' as we rubbed and waited for the leaf to work. Nettles have a culinary use as a soup vegetable and can also be served boiled with butter.

Great Plantain or Rat's Tail

A native perennial which can grow and thrive anywhere. It seems not to mind being walked on, driven on or mistreated in various ways.

This ability to withstand harsh treatment gave it magical properties in bygone days when people thought it couldn't be killed. Pulling it out is tough but it works every time.

Rat's Tail
Plantago major
Ragwort Senecio jacobaea

Ragwort - local name Benweed

Native biennial/perennial which is poisonous to horses, but loved by gorgeous spiders. Used to be strictly controlled but is now widespread in fields and roadsides.

Very pretty it looks too.

The insect on the left of the picture is nearly as pretty and as yet we haven't found out what it is called nor what it is doing there.

Lesser Trefoil

A tiny example of the Trefoil family which likes to grow on the rough pathways and tracks.  It has little clover-like leaves and produces black fruits.

It is easily confused with Black Medick, but has a tiny notch in its leaf apex, rather than a point.
Lesser Trefoil Trifolium dubium

Return to the Wildflower page

Return button with shellduck

An e-mail envelope

Wildflower editor

Continue with next page

Return button with shellduck