It’s Sunday – I think we need some wildflowers, and this week we have three plants that are all partial to living with damp feet, all with flowers in the pink-purple colour range.
Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris)
As its common name implies, this wildflower thrives in locations where its roots can keep damp: near lakes and rivers, ponds and bogs. Its scientific name also refers to this: palustris means ‘of swamps’, while Stachys means ‘spike of flowers’, which is exactly what this lovely wildflower exhibits. And, of course, all the ‘woundworts’ were used extensively by herbalists, in this case, as an ointment to aid aching joints and as a dressing to help heal cuts and other wounds.
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Here’s another widespread plant of marshes and riversides, and that’s exactly where I found this example, alongside the River Ely in Cardiff. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any closer for better photos of the individual flowers. In Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey gives this explanation for this plant’s intriguing name: ‘“Loose-strife” is a literal translation of the Greek name for the plants, which in classical times was believed to be so powerful “that if placed on the yoke of inharmonious oxen, [it] will restrain their quarrelling”.’
Water mint (Mentha aquatica)
And here’s another plant that prefers living with damp, not necessarily wet feet. Once again, this wildflower’s name tells the story: ‘Water’ and ‘aquatica’; and you only have to rub the leaves to release the delicious minty aroma, which is so refreshing. Insects love it too, as you can see from the hoverfly, butterfly and bee in the photos above.