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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

15 April, 2014

Wood anemone: the star of the woodland floor

The increase in light from longer days as the sun moves closer to us brings out the spring woodland flowers. These need to flower, pollinate and set seed in a short space of time before the trees above them break in to leaf and the amount of light to the woodland floor is thus reduced. One of these early spring delights is the lovely white star-shaped flower of the wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa). They are members of the buttercup family and thrive on the edge of woodland rides and
clearings where sufficient light breaks through.
Although driven by light to flower the wood anemone, like several woodland species of plant, actually spreads mainly by rhizomes under the ground and so they are usually found in large, dense patches. Large patches of these flowers often indicate that there has been woodland on the site for many years.
I called the wood anemone flowers 'star' shaped but actually they have six petals so they are not the conventional five-pointed stars. Nevertheless, their bold flowers set against the bright green background of the leaves are a wonderful sight and they are certainly stars of the woodland floor as far as I am concerned!
The very early spring flowers tend to be yellow but they are gradually replaced by white and along with wood anemones look out for greater stitchwort (shirt buttons!), wood sorrel, garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-Hedge), sanicle, pignut and ransoms in your local wood all coming in to flower during late April and throughout May.
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