Early spring is a great time to catch the carpet of wildflowers popping up throughout the Heart of England Forest. Taking advantage of the light and sunshine afforded to them before the trees grow new leaves, many species add splashes of colour that are guaranteed to enhance your woodland walk.
If you find yourself out and about in the Forest during early spring, you’ll see plenty of signs that spring is here – one place well worth a look is in Robert’s Wood where you can see wild daffodils (walk details can be found on our website here). Why not learn about phenology – the science of recording nature’s calendar – and join in our Woodland Watch by telling us what you find? See this article for more details.
Among the plants widespread throughout the Forest it’s worth keeping an eye out for;
Snowdrops – perhaps the eagerly anticipated sign that winter is on the way out and spring is coming, early clusters of snowdrops appear between January and March, warming the heart of all who encounter them. These hardy little flowers herald the start of a new season of growth!
Lesser celandine – also among the first flowers of the year, they are a member of the buttercup family. These shiny golden star-like flowers and their deep green heart-shaped leaves can often blanket large swathes of the woodland floor.
Wild daffodil – native to ancient woodland, their flowers have pale yellow petals surrounding a darker yellow trumpet with narrow, grey-green leaves. Once abundant, these wild flowers are much rarer now due to loss of habitat since the 19th century.
Wood anemone – another plant that spreads quickly, they are more likely to be found in old or mature woodland areas. The first hint that you are near them is the musky aroma from their leaves. Their tiny flowers typically have six or seven petal-like segments and, although predominantly white, they can also be pink, lilac or blue.
Primrose – although most commonly yellow, it is not unusual to find white or pink primroses growing in the wild. Often found in shaded hedgerows or carpeting areas of open woods, the name ‘primrose’ derives from the latin ‘prima rosa’, or first rose – although it is not related to the rose. To prevent further species decline, picking primroses or removing the plants is illegal in the UK.
Cowslips – flowering soon after the primrose, cowslips are more likely to be found on the open ground around the Forest. In the past, farming practices have taken their toll on cowslips, although they have been resurgent of late and in the Heart of England Forest they can grow without hindrance. Their deep yellow flowers sit proudly in clusters of between 10 and 30 blooms atop tall single stems.
A great way to find the best places to spot spring flowers is to join an organised stroll in the company of our Head Forester, Stephen Coffey. His expert eye will ensure you don’t miss a thing! The next one is on Saturday April 22nd starting at our Barton Car Park – details can be found on our events page.