Friday, May 19, 2006

The spring hawksbeard

On an abandoned allotment on the outskirts of Hastings, I came on a wonderful display of beaked hawksbeard, Crepis vesicaria. This is an introduced plant from the Mediterranean and south west Asia that was first recorded in Britain in 1713. It is now widespread in mainly the southern half of the British Isles.

Coming, as it does, between the dandelions and the yellow composites of mid to late summer, it is a useful source of pollen and nectar to early flying insects. The leaves have even found their way into salad (as have those of most plants of this ilk) in southern Europe but are very bitter.

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