Species of the Month - April 2018
month's species looks similar to Chickweed at first glance but is much
less common. Its 5 petals are rounded, not notched or divided like
those of chickweeds and stitchworts. The white petals are
shorter than the green sepals. In an open flower the calyx
(sepals) is about 6-10 mm across, but the corolla (petals) is about 4-7
mm in diameter.
flower has 10 stamens and 3 styles. The leaves have 3 main veins
(sometimes 5 can be seen) and have tiny spine-like hairs all round the
edge. The sepals are also 3-veined.
flowers are solitary, each on a long stalk arising singly from a leaf
axil. The stalk lengthens even further in
fruit. The fruit is a round capsule containing black seeds.
plant is normally annual but can occasionally overwinter. It occurs in
woods and on mossy walls and partly shaded roadside banks, preferring
dry, neutral and fairly rich soils. It is near the edge of its
range in Argyll, with scattered records further up the west coast to
straggling among other young vegetation in the wooded gorge of a hill
burn. Here it flowers before the tree canopy closes over, and
attracts early flying insects seeking nectar. In more open places
it can flower at any time during the summer.
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