Here are three of our favourite wildflowers, that you might find blooming in the summer month of August
Teasel – Dipsacus fullonum
We love seeing a teasel, it makes a stately specimen in a garden or in the wild and can grow over 5ft tall. The strong stem often has many branches, each topped with the familiar spiky flowerhead. Tiny individual purple flowers nestle between the spines, which are adored by bees and pollinators during the summer. In autumn, it becomes a magnet for birds, who love the seed heads. It is not unusual to see a charm of goldfinch busily feasting on the seeds. The statuesque structure provides excellent winter interest at the back of a border.
How the Teasel got its name
Dried teasel seed heads were once used in medieval cloth production as combs, attached to a frame or handle they would be drawn across woven woollen fabric, to raise the nap or ‘tease’ it, as part of the manufacturing process, another name for this is ‘carding’.
Teasel gets its common name from its use in the weaving process, ‘dipsacus’ comes from the Greek for thirst and refers to the cavity formed where the leaves attach to the stem, which collects and holds water. ‘Fullonum’ comes another association with cloth production, ‘fulling’ this is when Fuller’s earth was added to wet cloth to remove the naturally occurring lanolin in the wool, the teasing process took place after the ‘fullers’ had done their work.
- The main central flower is called the ‘king’ the side flowers ‘queens’ and the smaller heads ‘prince’s or ‘buttons’!
- Teasel is a biennial meaning it takes two seasons to reach maturity.
Musk Mallow – Malva moschata
A tall perennial with large rose pink petals, which grows to a height of 40-70cm, flowering from June to August. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and moths, and bumblebees enjoy visiting for pollen and nectar too.
Mallow has many herbal uses, and can be made into a tea. The seeds of Musk Mallow are used in perfume and the plant fibres can be used for clarifying sugar! 💕
It’s All Geek To Me
‘Malva‘ from the Greek ‘malakos‘ meaning soft or soothing perhaps referencing the emollient obtained from the seeds, ‘moschata‘ meaning musk or fragrant.
Corn Marigold – Gelbionis segetum
Golden-yellow discs with prominent petals, are borne singly on the ends of the stems. The leaves are deeply toothed, slightly fleshy, lobed, hairless and covered with a waxy layer that gives them a greenish blue-grey colour.
In Victorian times, Corn Marigold was a serious weed; but since the 1930s its numbers have greatly reduced due to seed cleaning, and herbicide use.
Corn Marigold is an excellent plant for bees, butterflies and moths, and is the food plant of the Chamomile Shark Moth.
What’s in a name?
Segetum means ‘of cornfields’, so this is quite literally a flower of the cornfields.
In the east the young shoots are eaten as a vegetable, particularly in China. It was a familiar sight in 16th Century English gardens.