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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 August, 2016

Ploughmans spikenard: blister creme?

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Ploughman's spikenard (Inula conyzae) is plant of the downlands that is easily overlooked, not because it is small, because it isn't, but because it looks a bit like a ragwort that has gone over. It grows on calcareous soils on wasteland, grassland and scrub and so will be found on the Purbeck Ridge and along the cliffs where the earth is, perhaps, a bit bare. 
It has a strange name and I have no idea where it comes from, there is very little information elsewhere on the web about this flower. It is a bit prickly, or spiky, and it is out in the late summer and early autumn when traditionally the fields would have been ploughed after the harvest so perhaps ploughman's spikenard is something to do with the spiky plant that ploughmen tread on? It seems nard was an ointment made from a Himalayan flower so was probably quite exclusive and expensive. Maybe a cheap form of nard was made from this plant and ploughmen used it treat blisters on their hands? Any further ideas are welcome!
 
It is a member of the daisy family and the nondescript flower heads turn into clusters of seeds heads, much like groundsel.
Ploughmans spikenard: blister creme?