Sunday, April 15, 2007

15 April: Stitchwort

The stitchwort surprised me yesterday as we walked along the old railway line.

Last year I posted a picture of it on 5 May, when the bluebells were out. No sign of bluebells here yet.

Perhaps stitchwort flowers according to the temperature, and bluebells according to the light levels.

Anyone know?


I, like the view said...

are you greater or lesser?

Greater Stitchwort
Stellaria holostea
Height up to 50cm

Widespread and common in open woodland and along rides and hedgerows. Leaves are narrow, fresh green and grass-like. Easily overlooked among foliage until white flowers appear April-­June. These are 20­30mm across and have notched petals.

Lesser Stitchwort
Flowers: May - August

A short or taller (up to 50 cm) creeping perennial. The stems are square and smooth and can be much branched. The stems break off easily and are also able to root. The un-stalked leaves are narrow and pointed at the end and hairy at the base. The small star-like flowers (12 mm) can form clusters of 10 or more. The pollination is mostly carried out by flies.

Lesser Stitchwort occurs throughout Britain in woods, scrub, heathland, tall grassland, hedges, etc. Generally it grows on sandy, light or well-drained soil

I, like the view said...

oh sorry - forgot this bit:

There are a number of factors threatening the survival of our native bluebells. About 70% are found in woodland, but worryingly, much of this ideal habitat has been destroyed for agriculture or converted to coniferous woodland.

They are perfectly adapted to cope with the shade created by the woodland canopy above. The first shoots emerge in January, giving bluebells a valuable head start over other woodland plants. They can grow and sow seeds before the trees produce leaves, reducing space and light. However, temperatures are getting warmer, bringing spring forward by six days for every degree celsius. In other words, this 'head start' is getting smaller.

Interbreeding with Spanish bluebells and the resulting hybrids is also posing a threat to our native variety. The Spanish bluebells were introduced to British gardens in the 17th century, but it wasn't until the 20th century that they escaped into the wild. As a result, a third of bluebells are either a Spanish or hybrid variety, and one in six bluebell woods contains a mixture of all three species.

apologies for being long winded, but I thought it might be of interest. . .


I, like the view said...

actually, I haven't really answered your question at all, have I?


Murph said...

It's all in turmoil this year... the daffs are still out and Mr P has got his shorts on!

stitchwort said...

The one I know and love seems to be Greater Stitchwort. My trusty copy of Fitter and Blamey's The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe shows Greater, Lesser, Bog, Wood and Marsh stitchworts, all very similar to chickweeds of various sorts, and of course the mouse-ear family.
Greater S. is described as growing in "woods and hedges on heavier soils" - that fits the places I find it on our clay nicely.

Spanish bluebells are a subject that upsets some people. I'm not sure I can tell the difference.

KAZ said...

I love Stitchworts.
My urbane city friends are amazed when I reel off the names of germander speedwell, purple loosestrife, bladder campion etc.
Most of the time I keep my country bumpkin origins well hidden.

But I've no idea about the answer to your question - I'm no botanist.

Murph said...

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still or lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

stitchwort said...

murph - am I missing the pun, or is that actual poetry?

Murph said...

Edward Thomas!

I, like the view said...

quality comments!

stitchwort said...

Thanks murph, that encouraged me to go and read Adlestrop (which I don't really know).

Definitely mind-broadening, this blogging.

Lucy said...

Our stitchwort's been out ages, but the bluebells only just.
I don't get into a strop about Spanish bluebells, but then my brain's addled.
Adieu and farewell to your fair Spanish bluebells...