More wild flowers

I keep seeing herb robert lining my route to work and in the hedgerows along my regular footpaths. It’s a member of the Geranium genus and is found in hedgerows, woods and on disturbed ground


Herb robert – Geranium robertianum

I’m a tad confused by this plant because it has all the normal attributes of herb robert; the pink flowers, leaf shape, hairy buds and stems, but this one has the same bud shape as a cranesbill and a quick web search hasn’t yielded another image of herb robert with seed pods shaped like this. (So if I’ve made a taxonomic error please let me know!). Herb robert smells quite unpleasant and has been used as an insect repellant.


Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale

These pictures were taken a few weeks ago and at that time they were loaded with insect life, this danselion has six flower beetles (Oedemera nobilis) foraging on it, and it wasn’t at all unusual to see flowers in the meadow with this many bugs and more feeding on them.


White clover – Trifolium repens

Clover grows abundantly in grassland. It is pollinated primarily by bumble bees but as bumble bee numbers decline it has become a major source of nectar for honey bees, therefore beekeepers became important people for cattle farmers who grow clover as a fodder crop for their livestock.

Jack go to bed at noon – Tragopogon pratensis

The lovely yellow star of ‘jack go to bed at noon’ is so named because the flowers open early in the morning and close up again at noon. It is also known as ‘goats beard’ and is a native annual in the UK. It has a milky latex sap which, according to Wiki, children from the countryside in Armenia make bubble gum from. It has a wonderful seedhead which is much bigger than than the dandelion and has fewer larger seeds.


Jack go to bed at noon seedhead

As with alot of other wild flowers, they are rampant just now because of the warm wet weather and are numerous in fallow fields and hedgerows.

A jack go to bed at noon seedhead with a closed flower behind it at the edge of a field

Also common around Cambridge right now is the birdsfoot trefoil. The flowers here are a gorgeous golden yellow but can also have red or orange which gives them their other common name: bacon and eggs.


Birdsfoot trefoil – Lotus corniculatus

Birdfoot trefoil is a legume which means it can actively fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. It can do this with the help of symbiotic bacteria which colonise root nodules and convert inert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a form of nitrogen which plants can use. This ability makes the legumes a natural fertiliser because nitrogen is required by all plants, but unless they can fix it in this way they are reliant on alternative sources in the soil. Poor soil can be boosted by the application of other fertilisers such as good old fashioned manure, or more recently ‘NPK’ (Nitrogen/Phosphorus/Potassium, ‘K‘ being the chemical symbol for potassium). Or, when cycles of crop rotation are used, one of the crops used may be another legume, such as peas, which can help to replenish nitrogen levels in the soil naturally.

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24 responses to “More wild flowers

  1. Jack go to bed at noon!!!!! 😀 A simply delightful name!!!! Sharon

  2. Hello, Finn – not to intrude into your conversation with Sue, but yes, we do have Goats Beard here in the US. I know Allen is familiar with it in New Hampshire with his Garden Solutions blog, and we have it here among the mountains and canyons where I hike in Utah…. I think it’s strikingly beautiful when the seed-heads are out……

  3. I often see birdsfoot trefoil with tinges of red and orange and wonder what causes it to colour this way. Possibly to do with certain nutrients in the soil? Never heard of the common name of bacon and eggs. Like it!

    Great shot of the herb robert – very crisp focus of the flower itself shows off the petals nicely 🙂

    • Hello Woody, I don’t know about the colours, but your idea about the soil is an interesting one, because most of the flowers I see around here are only yellow. So I guess it could be that.

  4. Beautiful pictures Finn. I’ve been noticing a lot of herb bennet around here lately, and some herb robert, too. I like these two plants because they remind me of my father (Bennet) and grandfather (Robert), which helps me to remember the names! I love to see bird’s foot tefoil, I think it’s a beautiful little plant, but I’ve never heard of Jack go to bed at noon, what a wonderful name!

  5. For some reason the full URL of goodpages.co.uk didn’t highlight so here it is again! http://www.flowers.goodpages.co.uk/index.php?page=herb-robert

  6. Hi Finn. It certainly looks like the Herb Robert I’ve seen. Here are a couple of websites: http://www.british-wild-flowers.co.uk/H-Flowers/Herb%20Robert.htm and http://www.flowers.goodpages.co.uk
    /index.php?page=herb-robert. I also featured this plant on my blog last year as we have lots in the garden (it’s doing very well this year too – the pink variety in particular!): https://thelanternroom.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/geranium-robertianum/

    • Hello Meanderer, I’m around 75% sure it is herb robert, but the shape of the seedheads added a little confusion. Thanks for the links, I’ll chase them down this evening and have a good look. It’s doing really well around Cambridge too, the hedgerows are full of it.

  7. Hi Finn
    Lovely pictures! The Herb Robert definitely looks like Herb Robert to me, and it is a cranesbill anyway, so you are right on both counts! Wikipedia tells me there are 420 species of cranesbill – how amazing nature is.
    The great thing about a rainy summer (there has to be something!) is how lush and happy the wild flowers are.

    • Hello Maggie,

      Blimey! that’s an awful lot of cranesbills. You’re dead right about the weather too, the wild flowers around here are rampant. I just hope there are enough insects to do all the pollination.

  8. Your photo of the Herb Robert is outstanding!

  9. Love the name for Goats Beard in the UK! Very interesting info on this plant.

  10. snowbirdpress

    These are simply marvelous wildflower photos…. I’m often stopped in my tracks by the brilliant Birdsfoot trefoil as I walk… Somehow it’s yellow color seems almost electric.

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