Nature Menu

Introduction Beginner's Guide Where to find wild flowers Where to find butterflies Week by Week SWC_Nature

Nature and Weather in South East England

June meadow and field flowers

Picture: lesser stitchwort. Click here for more June meadow and field flower photos.

At the beginning of June meadows are still at their best, but as the month progresses they go to seed and start to take on an untidy summer appearance.

In the early part of the month meadow buttercups can still make intense yellow displays but these don't last much beyond the second week. You can still find some in flower right till the end of the month but in general in the second half they are overtopped by tall grasses.

At the start of the month there is a wavy attractiveness to such sighing grasses but by the second or third week they are looking tired and brown, with their seedheads dominating. Some grass types to be seen include Yorkshire fog, cocksfoot, rough meadow grass, various oat grasses, and perennial ryegrass.

Traditionally late June or early July was when meadows were cut for hay and one can see this practice continuing, though these days it seems to happen as early as the second week, and occasionally even in May. The grass is either left to dry before being gathered into uncovered bales - in which case it will be used as hay - or, more usually, is wrapped while still moist in black plastic to become silage, winter fodder for livestock. 22 June is "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 they are largely over by mid month. Looking more closely you can also see lesser stitchwort nestling among the grasses. A diminutive version of the flowers that decorate verges so prettily in April and May, this is a very common meadow flower throughout June, so long as the weather is not too dry.

Pignut - an umbellifer (cow parsley-like flower) growing low to the ground - may also survive in meadows into the early part of the month. The same is also true of the pink flowers of common vetch. A plant that could possibly be confused with this is grass vetchling, which has single bright red flowers, but with grass-like leaves: this is also most likely in the first half.

Rarer plants that you may just see in meadows include hairy tare - tiny mauve flowers on pea-like tendrils, which can form large patches - and ragged robin, a pink plant related to red campion which grows in damp places.

White and red clover also can be seen in meadows throughout the month: very occasionally you may also see common broomrape, a parasite on clover. In the second half purple tufted vetch and yellow meadow vetchling can form sizeable clumps in long grass, and later in the month you sometimes see attractive patches of knapweed. Oxeye daisies occasionally make patches too.

One rather mysterious flower from the dandelion family that can 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 up 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.

June is also the month for corncockle and cornflower - arable weeds in their natural state. If you see either in a meadow these days, however, it is a sure sign that it has been planted using a wildflower seed mix.

Rough fields, pasture and mown grass

Hogweed can flower in some profusion in unkempt fields in June, producing a not unpleasing effect despite its chunky cow parsley-like flowers. It is, however, rather strange-smelling, which is perhaps where it gets its name. Insects love it.

Thistle plants are also common - particularly creeping thistles and the tall and spiny marsh thistle. The latter may occasionally be seen in flower even early in June, though the second half is a more usual time. Some creeping thistles may also flower in the second half, and spear thistles at the end of the month.

Common sorrel can be found in rough fields as well, but from mid month it is giving away to 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, though curled dock can also produce quite a bright red. Flowering starts in the second half of June, but varies from place to place, with some not coming out till July.

Species that can bring a cheerful splash of yellow to rough grass include rough hawksbeard in the first half of the month, while towards the end of the month common ragwort, St John's wort, agrimony and smooth hawksbeard may also appear.

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 by the end of the second week, leaving just a few flowers to survive until late in the month.

Both red and white clover can also make big displays in short grass. White clover flourishes particularly on trampled grass and may carpet pasture fields, mown grass or the edges of grassy paths. The same is true of daisies, a flower that carpets mown grass but also crops up in other trodden grass or pasture.

Black medick and birdsfoot trefoil can sometimes form large mats in short grass too, with the former even occasionally cropping up in lawns. A taller and more luxuriant version of the latter which is found in damper or rougher grassland is greater birdsfoot trefoil, which could at a glance be confused with meadow vetchling (the leaves are the clue to identification).

Other flowers you can see in short grass include some surviving germander speedwell early in the month or self heal towards its end. Catsear is sometimes found in great profusion on uncut lawns or suburban grassy banks, as well as in short grass fields.

Dovesfoot cranesbill seems to be mostly found in mown grass, though occasionally on verges. It is worth looking closely at it, however, as the somewhat similar common storksbill also sometimes crops up in short grass on sandy soils.

Mouse-ear is possible in grassy fields, at least early in the month, and the similar but more delicate-looking lesser stitchwort can crop up right till its end in rough fields. Tormentil is a common grassland flower on heaths or other acid soils, and in the same habitat tiny sheep's sorrel can form reddish patches.

Yellow rattle, more normally found on downland, occasionally establishes itself in lowland grassland, and towards the end of the month you just see some yarrow.

More June pages:

© Peter Conway 2006-2024 • All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment