Pembrokeshire’s meadows are home to some unusual and exceptional wildflowers, often not found in many other areas. Wild orchids and bee orchids can be seen readily, which can be quite a surprise for wildflower enthusiasts. The bee orchid is one of nature’s best mimics, although even in the clean air of West Wales, there are no longer any bees remaining that actually look like those it was first named after.
Unless you are more mature in age, you may well have grown up without seeing many meadows filled with wild flowers – I recall moving to a remote part of Cumbria in my twenties, having grown up in Southern England, and being completely astonished at finding fields waist high with flowers – it is great to know that such delights are becoming more common again thanks to the work of conservationists across the UK. The sad aspect is that many people know little about wildflowers or can name many at all. I was lucky that my Nan did teach me some and that I spent lots of time in the country , but still can only be sure of the few species!
The medicinal properties of many has been relegated to folklore, although interest in the magical properties of some is regaining popularity. A few examples that I have discovered in researching Pembrokeshire wildflowers are:-
- coltsfoot – once used for lung illnesses and common coughs
- evening primrose – rather better known and still popular – for the skin, heart and gyneacological issues
- eyebright – for colds, hayfever and was once used as a cure for conjunctivitis
- field scabious – for itchy things, even plague sores – hopefully no longer needed
Not all meadow wildflowers have such beneficial effects however and the poisonous effects of some are well-recorded in history and literature! You may well have heard of poisonous ones such as:-
- hemlock, used in the demise of Socrates
- hogweed or cow parsnip, which can cause in skin blistering and ulceration
- lily of the valley has poisonous properties too
- common ragwort, also known as “stinking willie” is toxic to livestock.
If you know of others, or have memories or tales to tell about meadow wildlfowers and their special powers, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch below:-
If you would like copies of any of the Andrew Bailey Watercolours featured in this series you can purchase from his etsy shop.