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‘Old Bats’ Nature Blog, February 2018

February 2018

Lesser Celandine

February is my favourite month.  Although the middle of January sees a gradual increase in evening daylight, once February arrives, both the evenings and mornings seem to get lighter with every passing day. This growing light brings about amazing changes. The birds sound different. Totally different, a higher pitch of notes, more frequent calls, all leading to an almost continuous twittering and an incessant tweets.

We tend to think that temperature is the greatest trigger to changes in nature, but it is light. As soon as the days lengthen, nature begins to burst into life, triggering the birds commence their territorial calls before the hectic activities of the nesting season.

But what really signifies spring, is the appearance of the Lesser Celendine as it flowers in hedgerows, woods and gardens where it has been allowed to grow. At the touch of the February sun, it opens it abundant bright yellow petals, only to close them again in cloud and rain.  These yellow star-like flowers are one of the first woodland flowers of the year, often carpeting the ground with a splash of colour, and also providing an important source of nectar for insects and queen bumblebees as they emerge from hibernation.

About Lesser Celandine.

Lesser Celandine is an old medicinal plant and used to treat scurvy as its young leaves are rich with vitamin C. The leaves were picked early before the plant flowered, as the leaves when old, contain the poisonous substance protoanemonine. The plant was also used in the treatment of warts.

Identification facts:

Size: 3 to 20cm.

Flower colour: Yellow

Flower structure: 8 to 12 yellow petals.

Leaf shape: Heart-shaped to kidney shaped.

Flowering: February to May.

Habitat: Moist deciduous woodland, hedgerows, grassland and gardens in rich, wet soils.

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