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Growing Wild - whitethorn and cow parsley


Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist takes a closer look at some of our native Irish biodiversity to look out for in the countryside. Here she shares some interesting facts of nature about whitethorn, also known as hawthorn, and cow parsley

Whitethorn or Hawthorn

Look out for  whitethorn with white flowers on green palmate or lobed leaves. The ‘May blossom’- often featuring in photos of the first silage cutting and photos of the Irish countryside - synonymous with farmed landscape. Known as whitethorn by farmers and rural people, it is also called hawthorn – which is why all trees and plants have an official Latin name. A mature whitethorn is one of the loveliest of trees, but seldom allowed grow into the magnificent tree it can become. Supporting 62 larger Irish moth species – it is part of our native Irish biodiversity

Cow parsley 

Look out for  Cow parsley, a tall conspicuous plant on many roadside verges. It is an ‘umbel’ which is a cluster of flowers on stalks coming from the same point.  Its lace-like delicate white flowers in clusters reach out of feathery fern-like leaves which account for its name Queen Anne’s Lace. It was also called Lady’s lace and used to decorate May alters to honour Our Lady. It has a distinctive scent on warm days. Cow parsley provides an abundant supply of nectar for flies, bees, beetles and wasps. This iconic plant of country roadsides is part of our native Irish biodiversity. 

See previous Growing Wild articles below:

Keep an eye on Teagasc Daily for another Growing Wild later in the month. Learn more from Teagasc about Biodiversity & Countryside