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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!

24 November, 2015

Redleg: new name same game

I recently purchased an excellent new field guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland (by Marjorie Blamey, Richard Fitter and Alastair Fitter) and I discovered that this plant I had always known as redshank is now named as redleg (Persicaria maculosa). The reason for the change is, I think, quite obvious. It is to avoid confusion with the bird of the same name, the common  wader with red legs known as the redshank.
The name may have changed but the distinctive features are, of course, still the same! It is a member of the dock family, the polygonums. It is a sprawling plant, very variable in height and usually growing in large clusters. The distinctive feature is its central stem which is, inevitably, red and it has small pale red flowers which are in fact clusters of smaller flowers. Just to be sure, look for the triangular black smudges on the leaves.
This a very common plant of bare, damp ground and is often found on farms and in meadows where tractors or Land Rovers have made ruts that gather water. It is also common in drainage ditches and anywhere there is mud.
Although the plant has advantageous medical properties and 

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