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June meadow and field flowers

Other June pages: Wayside flowers Downland and seaside flowers • Hedgerow, trees and berries • Birds • Butterflies and insects • Weather

Put your cursor over any photo to see its caption, or click here to see more June meadow and field flower photos.

At the start of June it is still high spring – with big swathes of cheerful flowers and blossom, and grass and foliage a verdant green. But as the month progresses things go to seed: meadows become overgrown and the countryside starts to take on a untidy summer appearance. However this is actually the time of the year with the biggest variety of wild flowers.

Meadows go to seed

In the early part of June meadow buttercups can still make intense yellow displays in meadows but these don't last much beyond the second week. You can still find some right till the end of the month but in general in the second half they are being smothered by tall grasses. In the first half of the month there is a wavy attractiveness to such sighing grasses but later they start to look ragged, with the seedheads dominating. Traditionally late June or early July was when meadows were cut for hay and one can see this practice continuing on some farms (the hay is used as winter fodder for livestock). 22 June is also "hay day" - statistically the time of peak grass pollen.

Early in the month ragged ears of common sorrel give meadows a pleasing reddish tinge but it is largely over by mid month. Grasses such as purple moor grass or Yorkshire fog can produce a purple haze in meadows on acid soils.

Look closer and you can see smaller flowers. Examples include lesser stitchwort, a diminutive version of the flowers that decorate verges so prettily in April and May: this is a very common meadow flower in June, though is fading towards the end of the month. Similar, but less delicate, is mouse ear, also occasionally found in meadows. Lesser stitchwort petals are evenly spaced whereas those of mouse-ear are grouped in twos (actually one petal deeply notched). Mouse ear also has thicker stems, is hairy, and has smaller flowers.

You can also see the tiny mauve flowers and pea-like tendrils of hairy tare and smooth tare, and - if you are lucky - the single bright red pea flowers of grass vetchling. Pignut may survive early in the month. The tiny pink flowers of common vetch may also last into June and ribwort plantain may occur at any time of the month.

White and red clover also can be seen in meadows throughout the month. Rarely you may also see common broomrape, a parasite on clover. In the second half purple tufted vetch and yellow meadow vetchling can both form sizeable clumps amidst the long grass. Oxeye daisies occasionally make patches, though they are more usually verge flowers. Sometimes rough, beaked or smooth hawksbeard also make a good showing in meadows.

One rather mysterious flower from the dandelion family that can quite often be seen in meadows in June is goatsbeard. Or rather it is usually not seen. Its beautiful yellow flowers open only in the early morning closing down around as the sun gets high to leave very distinctive ribbed heads that look as if they are about to bloom or about to go to seed. It is most easily identified by its large fluffy seed heads, which are like those of dandelions, only about twice as big. It is the only dandelion family plant with grass-like leaves.

Rougher fields and pasture

The hawksbeards (mentioned above) can also sometimes produce a meadow-like effect in unkempt fields. Another flower of in this category is hogweed, a chunky (and rather strange-smelling) relative of cow parsley, which is normally a verge flower but sometimes spreads across June fields to not unattractive effect. Thistles also spring up in rougher fields - particularly creeping thistle, though it does not flower until the very end of the month, if then. The tall and very spiny marsh thistle may bloom from quite early in the month, however.

Common sorrel can also be found in rough fields, but from mid month it is giving away the not-dissimilar dock, the two most common species being curled dock and broad-leaved dock. In both cases the flowers give the plant a rusty look, as if they have already gone over. Yellow rattle also sometimes establishes itself.

In grazed pasture and other shorter grass there can still be intense mats of creeping buttercup early in the month but they tend to have faded the end of the second week. Some still survive until late in the month however. Black medick and birdsfoot trefoil can sometimes form large mats, and dovesfoot cranesbill can sometimes be seen. Clover - usually white clover since it flourishes particularly on grass that is trampled by man or beast - may also carpet such fields. (For the same reason it grows on the edge of grassy paths.) Mouse-ear can be be found in pasture fields too, at least early in the month.

On paths and in mown or closely-cropped grass daisies and catsear may be seen in some quantities, and some self-heal also can crop up. On acid soils or heathland tiny sheep's sorrel can form reddish patches.

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