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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!

05 November, 2015

Lousewort: the cause not the cure


In areas of damp heath, often where there is grass rather than heather, you will often find lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica). It can also occur in quite wet areas of bog and myre. It is a low growing plant that spreads along the along the ground producing pink or purple flowers that have a top lip that is longer and overhangs three smaller ones along the bottom.
It flowers from May until July and the blooms look much like those of the deadnettle family (the labiates) but lousewort is more closely related to the broomrapes and as such is a parasitic plant. Unlike broomrapes which tend to have specific hosts lousewort is more generalist although it seems to have a preference for grasses. Lousewort is actually hemi-parasitic so partly fends for itself and that is why it has green chlorophyll which the true broomrapes lack.
Lousewort does not get its name as a an old cure for lice, quite the opposite. It was thought 

Read more: Lousewort: the cause not the cure