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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!

08 January, 2017

Common Mouse-ear:

One thing at least is true about the name of this plant, the common mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum); it is common! Debating which is the most common plant species is futile as it could never be established but f one were to try then surely common mouse-ear would be one of the main contenders. Being co common it is rarely given a second glance which is a shame.
Mouse-ears are members of the caryophyllaceae family which are better known as pinks; campions and stitchworts are related. The may be pinks but they are not all pink of course. My field guide lists eleven species of mouse-ears and they are have white flowers. They tend to be small plants, indeed, some are very small, and they have five deeply lobed petals making it seem that they may have ten petals in five pairs. Common mouse-ear is one of the larger plants in the group and is very variable in size and can grow to over a foot tall apparently but I have never seen any of this size. A ubiquitous plant of grasslands, especially where the rival vegetation is thin you can find in flower from April right through until November. 
I have explained, I hope, why it is the common mouse-ear but where does the mouse-ear come from? It comes from the leaves that grow in opposite pairs at intervals along the stem. They are quite short, they are thin, they are pointed and they are hairy, just the ears of a long-tailed field mouse! 
Common Mouse-ear: