As Spring rolls into summer, heathland becomes carpeted in every colour of the rainbow. If you read our May in the Cairngorms blog, you may have seen a small selection of wildflowers. Wildflowers become a spectacle at this time of year, some creeping along the ground, some pushing their way above the high grass all different in appearance. A lot of our flower appear in May and June, with July seeing the peak of their bloom. Keep a lookout for these and many other flowers over the next few weeks on your own patch.
Milkwort (Polygala Vulgaris)
The first of these wildflowers is one with a large family, Common Milkwort. Other ‘Worts’ in the family include, Louse, Butter and Sneezewort. This small and elegant wildflower hugs the ground and can vary from a light to dark purple. Flowering mainly in May and June, this flower can be found throughout the UK in areas of grassland. All the Wort plants served a medicinal purpose in history and Milkwort was said to make milk production more abundant.
Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis Vulneraria)
Kidney vetch has an unusual appearance which makes it recognisable. The yellow cluster of flowers is entangled in a woolly calyx. Often found on sandy shores or chalk grassland, it tends to be seen in large groups. Kidney Vtech serves an important purpose for one of our smallest Butterflies. The Small Blue butterfly found around coasts have a small population inland in the Cairngorms, due to the presence of the Kidney Vetch.
Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
A speciality of the Caledonian forest in and around the Cairngorms National Park, Twinflower is truly special. Photos of these flowers can make the flower look large than they truly are. These tiny and delicate flowers grow to a height of 5-15cm with leave and root systems creeping across the woodland floor. Twinflower is only found in around fifty protected or remote locations in Inverness-shire, earning its title as the counties flower. Overgrazing and change in woodland management mean these flowers are declining but conservation efforts by Plantlife Scotland are helping.
Northern Marsh Orchid
Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella)
A common sight in Scotland, the northern marsh orchid can stand to a height of 15-30cm with clusters of rich purple flowers rising up the stem. They may get confused with other marsh orchids unless you look closely at the patterning inside the lip of each flower. They grow in predominately damp areas, especially along riverbanks and machair on the west coast of Scotland.
Let us know if have a favourite wildflower and have seen the ones mentioned, by visiting Speyside Wildlife and follow our social media.