Dog’s Mercury

dog's mercuryStoneycliffe Wood, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, 3.30 p.m., 39ºF, 4ºC: The only flowers showing on the woodland floor so far are the spikes of male flowers on dog’s mercury. The inconspicuous female flowers are on separate plants. Dog’s mercury is a member of the spurge family.

first celandineIn south-facing hedge-banks, lesser celandine is already in flower but here in the wood so far there are only a few heart-shaped leaves.

The larger leaves in the bottom right corner of my drawing are ground elder. Ground elder was introduced to this country by the Romans who cooked the leaves like spinach. While the right-hand leaf of the ground elder has been well nibbled there is very little sign of damage to the leaves of the dog’s mercury which, like the spurge, is poisonous.

pigeonThe stem of the bush in the top right corner of my drawing is elder, another plant with similar looking leaves. Glossy bluebell leaves are springing up but wood anemone and wood sorrel have yet to appear.

robinA robin is singing, a wood pigeon calling and pheasants are grockling.

Cardiac Hill

‘Did I hear the man on the phone describe this hill as Cardiac Hill’, I ask three passing dog walkers.

‘No I’ve never heard that one!’

‘It would be a good name’, I suggest, ‘the way it gets steeper and steeper as you get towards the top.’

jack russel‘I always come down it!’

‘Very wise!’

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