Wild Flowers Found in Burnley, Lancashire
Wild Flowers In Burnley
I have very much enjoyed getting to know the wild flowers of Burnley, which are surprisingly abundant, very beautiful, spirit raising and can sometimes be found in the most unprepossessing of places. Soil wise there is a lot of peat around and much of the area has a slightly acid soil - PH below 7. It should be noted that Burnley gets plenty of rain, some might argue, more rain then we strictly require!
Bluebell - Hyacynthoides non-scripta
English woods are renowned for their Bluebells and whilst there aren't a lot of woods around Burnley, we don't miss out on bluebells completely. Bluebells come into their own in May and catching a wood carpeted in bluebells at their peak is a heady experience. Cemetery Woods is a good place to find them. I photographed these in Huncoat, five miles from Burnley, in a remnant of woodland on a brownfield site which has reverted very nicely to nature.
Wild Garlic, also known as ransoms, is plentiful in Cemetery wood where these were photographed. I try not to tread on wildflowers, but it sometimes can't be avoided when the ground is carpeted with wild garlic and this means you carry the scent of garlic on your footwear for a day afterwards. The delicate flowers are slightly at odds with the wild uniform green leaves which have evolved to capture the limited sunlight coming through the tree canopy and maximise photosynthesis.
Greater Burnet Saxifrage - Pimpinella major
I enjoy an imposing sounding plant name and combining the Latin and English names, like to imagine that somewhere there is a Major Burnet Saxifrage retired from commanding troops. The greater burnet saxifrage has a pinkish tinge to the flower-head and prefers a damp habitat. I photographed this one in July growing in a ditch near Clowbridge reservoir, near Burnley.
Cuckoo Flower - Cardamine pratensis
I've never heard a cuckoo whilst living in Burnley and the bird has suffered a dramatic decline in the UK in the past ten years. Happily, cuckoo flower can be found all over Burnley from April to June, to cheer the eye. It flowers often in quantity amongst unmown grass and patches of thin soil. I photographed these in May at Stoops Estate, on stony ground where houses stood 15 years ago.
Common Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza incarnata
These are one of the jewels in Burnley's crown. Orchids - you imagine they'll be tucked away in distant places, hard to find, in ones and twos. But not common spotted orchids, at least not in Burnley. When I lived in Nottinghamshire I would occasionally find them. In Burnley in June there are places where your eye is drawn through the grass by a visual feast of orchids. I've found them growing in narrow strips of grass by factory fences and old railway tracks. They are abundant in an area near to Lower Rosegrove Road and also near Cemetery Road and other places just waiting for you to explore, entirely for free, on foot, at the right time of year.
Orange Hawkweed - Pilosella aurantiaca
I love Orange Hawkweed for being the orangiest wild flower in the UK. (Although I can't think of any other contenders to be fair). It isn't subtle, but it brightens up patches of ground where the soil is thin and plants struggle to gain height. I also like it for being easily identifiable amongst the legions of hawkbits, hawkbeards, hawkweeds, and other relatives of the dandelion which I get quite confused between.
I photographed this one in Huncoat village in September. Peak flowering time is June-August.There were several growing on top of a low wall surrounding a meadow.
Lesser Skullcap - Scutellaria minor
Not a wildly attractive name, and a small unassuming flower each being around 5mm long. However the lesser skullcap is delicate and pretty, meriting a second look. The only place I have found them is a meadow off Lower Rosegrove Lane, Burnley where they flower in profusion from July to the end of September.
Ragged Robin - Lychnis flos-cuculi
An attractive name for a lovely plant, which I'd rarely seen until I moved to Burnley. It loves to grow in damp meadows, which is probably why it flourishes here, where the meadows are more likely to be damp then not. I photographed these in June, on the bridle path from Lower Rosegrove Lane, Burnely to Padiham, a former railway line.
Corn Cockle - Agrostemma githago
Although the corn cockle is seen growing wild in the UK, it is uncommon and this one had been intentionally sown as part of a small wildflower meadow area in Scott Park, Burnley. Like the poppy, it was a weed of wheat and barley fields which has been edged out by more efficient farming methods. However it can be enjoyed by anyone with a little patch to spare for wild flowers in a sunny area of the garden and as an annual will give you a beautiful result in the same year that you sow it.
Birdsfoot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
From May to September the birds foot trefoil brightens short to medium length sward up with its golden gleam and orangey tinges. Trefoil is a bit of a misnomer because there are actually 5 leaves per stem, but the lowest two are angled differently, making the top three stand out. The birds foot bit puzzled me mightily because I couldn't see a resemblance in the flowers or leaves, but it refers to the seedheads, which with a bit of imagination look a little like a European starling's foot.
These were photographed in May, alongside the Leeds Liverpool canal between Gannow Tunnel, Burnley and Hapton.
For More Wild Flowers I've Seen in Burnley, Lancashire, Go To
- More Wild Flowers Found in Burnley Lancashire
Wild flowers found in Burnley, ivy-leaved toadflax, sneezewort, foxglove, smooth hawksbeard, creeping buttercup, yellow flag iris, oxeye daisy, common fleabane, meadowsweet, dandelion
Some Good Further Reading on Wild Flowers
An excellent guide to British wild flowers. One to keep in your backpack.
Sarah Raven is aiming to increase the wild flower population of Britain and this book accompanies her TV series about this project.
This is an enjoyable ramble through British wild flowers, full of fascinating information. One to dip in to.