Wildflowers in Muswell Hill

The walk is rich in wild flowers, some of which are quite rare. In some cases they only grow in a single location. Please don't pick them. We welcome your photographs to include in this catalogue but please be careful not to kneel on other plants when taking them. Plants listed 'WT' can be found in our Wildlife Trail in Highgate.

Bindweed Convolvulaceae

With its beautiful white trumpet head this is one of those plants that gardeners love to see, as long as it's not in their garden. Its brittle perennial root system means that it can regrow from even the tiniest of cuttings and its vigorous growth can suffocate many plants. Photo: Stephen Middleton

Bladder campion Silene vulgaris

Bladder campion has large, bladder-shaped swellings behind its white, five-petalled flowers. Flowers May to September. It is categorised by the Royal Horticultural as 'Perfect for pollinators'. WT

Blue aquilegia Aquilegia vulgaris

Common names: Granny's Bonnet or Columbine. The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle's claw. The common name "columbine" comes from the Latin for "dove", due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together. This one established itself on the top of the viaduct wall in Muswell Hill.

Bluebell Hyacinthoides x massartiana

The hybrid bluebell shares characteristics with both the Spanish and native bluebell, which can make it difficult to identify.

Bramble Rubus fruticosus

Brambles are thorny plants of the genus Rubus, in the rose family (Rosaceae). Bramble fruit is the fruit of any such plant, including the blackberry and raspberry. Blackberries are easily spotted on the walk, but there are a few occurances of raspberry. Brambles are important food plants for the larvae of many species of butterfly and moth. Plentiful on the walk, work needs to be done to ensure this plant doesn't swamp other vegetation.

Buddleja Buddleja davidii

This extremely successful shrub (sometimes referred to as the butterfly bush) which is endemic to 4 continents is frequently seen beside railway lines, but has the ability to self seed and establish with no difficulty on brick structures such as bridges where its roots break up masonry over a quite short period of time. As a result, despite its popularity with bees, butterflies, moths and other insects, it is often seen as an invasive pest. WT

Cinquefoil Potentilla

Typical cinquefoil looks similar to wild strawberry but has dry inedible fruit. Flowers are usually yellow but may be pinkish, white or even red. In heraldry the cinquefoil emblem was used to signify strength, power, honour and loyalty and was used in the architecture of many churches built in Normandy and Brittany throughout the 15th century.

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara

Photo: Stephen Middleton

Russian Comfrey Symphytum x uplandicum

Comfrey is a particularly valuable source of fertility to the organic gardener and is used as a compost activator, liquid fertiliser, mulch or potting mixture. Comfreys have been used as traditional medicinal plants in Europe for centuries. Russian comfrey can be considered as a toxic plant and some comfrey products have been banned for human consumption in certain countries

Cuckoo pint Arum maculatum

Arum maculatum is a common woodland plant species of the Araceae family. Known often in the UK as cuckoo pint or lords and ladies, it has other less attractive names such as snakeshead and devils and angels that hint that it may be something to avoid. It is one of the most common causes of accidental plant poisoning, based on attendance at hospital A & E departments. Pretty, but don't touch. WT

Common Hogweed Heracleum sphondylium

This sturdy plant which grows between 50 and 200 cm, also known as cow parsnip (not to be confused with cow parsley) was originally used as pig's fodder hence the name hogweed. The flowers form large umbrella shapes and attract lots of flies, mainly due to the nasty scent it produces. The infamous Giant hogweed is not present on the Walk.

Cow Parsley Anthriscus sylvestris

Cow Parsley grows in sunny to semi-shaded locations in meadows and at the edges of hedgerows and woodland. It is sufficiently common and fast-growing to be considered a nuisance weed in gardens. It is linked to a number of healing qualities but beware, it can be mistaken for Poison hemlock.

Creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera

As well as growing in woodlands, grasslands, meadows and wetlands, Creeping bent is often used or turf in gardens and landscapes, particularly on golf courses. Its ability to remain palatable and green in summer also makes it popular for livestock forage

Creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens

Sounding somewhat like a Harry Potter spell, this bright yellow flowering plant is, like most buttercups, poisonous and due to its acrid taste, avoided by cattle. The basal leaves are divided into three broad leaflets. The plant grows to 50cm high and spreads by use of running stems. WT

Crocus Crocus chrysanthus

Bears vivid bowl-shaped flowers. Its common name, "snow crocus", derives from its exceptionally early flowering period, blooming about two weeks before the giant crocus, and often emerging through the snow in late winter or early spring. The leaves are narrow with a silver central stripe. Naturalised on the northern section.

Creeping thistle Cirsium arvense

Other names include Lettuce from hell thistle and Cursed thistle.It forms extensive colonies via an underground root system. Seeds have a feathery pappus which helps with wind dispersal. Seeds are important for Goldfinch and Linnet and used as a food by over 20 species of butterfly including Painted Lady. It's an invasive species which needs controlling to ensure it doesn't dominate valuable meadow land.

Cyclamen Cyclamen hederifolium

Wild Cyclamen is native in Europe and the Mediterranean and has escaped from gardens and naturalised in many areas across southern Britain. It prefers dappled shade or an undisturbed woodland setting where it will quickly spread, but it will even grow in full sun. Rosy pink flowers from August to December. Dark green ivy-like leaves mottled with pale silvery-green.

False oat grass Arrhenatherum elatius

This course grass, which can grow as high as 150cm tall, will grow in a wide range of neutral to base rich habitats from sea-level up ro 550m. It is often used as an ornamental grass

Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium

Feverfew is a traditional medicinal herb commonly used to prevent migraine headaches, and is also occasionally grown for ornament. The plant grows into a small bush up to around 46 cm (18 in) high with citrus-scented leaves, and is covered by flowers reminiscent of daisies. It is also sometimes referred to as bachelor's buttons.

Forget-me-not Myosotis sylvatica

References go back in German legend to the Creation when the plant asked God to "Forget me not." It was adopted by Henry IV during his exile and has been a symbol of faithfulness, in particular with lovers, for centuries. Newfoundland still uses the plant to remember Canada's war dead and it is an interchangeable symbol with Freemasonry. WT

Goose grass (Cleavers) Galium aparine

Photo: Stephen Middleton

Gorse Ulex europaeus

Gorse is closely related to the brooms, and like them, has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions. Between the different species, some gorse is almost always in flower, hence the old country phrase: "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion". Gorse flowers have a distinctive coconut scent, experienced very strongly by some individuals, but weakly by others. Present on the viaduct in Muswell Hill

Green alkanet Pentaglottis sempervirens

Flowering in early spring, making it a popular plant for bees, Green alkanet has beautiful little bright blue, white throated flowers. Its pointed oval leaves are covered in stiff little hairs. WT Photo: Stephen Middleton

Giant Horsetail Equisetum Telmateia

A large population of giant horsetail, an uncommon species in the borough, is present along a seepage line on the southfacing slope bordering the rear of the properties on Church Crescent. Equisetum is a "living fossil", as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests.

Hart's tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium

These plants are unusual in being ferns with simple, undivided fronds. Hart is an old word for deer. Scolopendrium is Latin for centipede. This fern was recommended as a medicinal plant in folk medicine as a spleen tonic and for other uses. Photo: www.ukwildflowers.com

Ivy Hedera helix

Ivy is a genus of 12 - 15 species. On the ground they rarely gain more than 20cm in height but when climbing can reach 30 metres above the ground. Juvenile leaves have the familiar palm like shape but as the plant matures the leaves become more rounded. The fruit is greenish black, ripening in late winter to mid spring. The seeds are dispersed by birds which eat the berries.

Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica

Now this is one plant we hope to be able to remove from the website one day. Native to Asia, Japanese knotweed is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species. If you come across it on the walk, leave it well alone. We are working hard to iradicate it. For more on this plant and policy towards its control, please select the link in the flora menu. WT

Lesser burdoch Arctium minus

Large and bushy flowers are prickly and pink to lavender. Flowers can easily be mistaken for thistles, but bordoch can be distinguished by its extremely large leaves (up to 50cm) and hooked bracts. After the flower head dries, the hooked bracts attach themselves to clothes and animals in order to transport the entire seed head.

Lesser celandine Ranunculus ficaria

One of the early spring flowers. It flowers from March until May, and is sometimes called the "spring messenger" as a consequence. According to the OED, celandine comes from the Latin chelidonia, meaning swallow: it was said that the flowers bloomed when the swallows returned and faded when they left.

Maiden's hair Asplenium trichomanes

Both the scientific name and the common name "spleenwort" are derived from an old belief, based on the doctrine of signatures, that the fern was useful for ailments of the spleen, due to the spleen-shaped sori on the backs of the fronds. "wort" is an ancient English term that simply means "plant". Photo Andy Lewington, cambriancavingcouncil

Mallow Malva

This plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own simple diet: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance"). Lord Monboddo describes his translation of an ancient epigram that demonstrates malva was planted upon the graves of the ancients, stemming from the belief that the dead could feed on such perfect plants. WT

Meadow cranesbill Geranium pratense

The leaves are deeply divided into 7-9 lobes and 3-6 inch wide and the flowers are pale blue, although getting paler into the centre. The flowers have 5 petals, which sometimes have veins. The stamens have pink-purple stalks with dark purple anthers. Photo: Stephen Middleton

Old man's beard Clematis vitalba

Old man's beard or Traveller's joy is a climbing shrub with branched, grooved stems, deciduous leaves, and scented greeny-white flowers with fluffy underlying sepals which give the beard effect which recalls Father Christmas's beard in December. It's not particularly popular with insects and needs to be controlled or it will smother whole trees and areas of ground.

Oxford ragwort Senecio squalidus)

A real railway flower. It's a hybrid between two Senicio species native to Mount Etna that was introduced to the Oxford Botanic Garden in 1690. By the end of the 18th century it grew on almost every wall in and about Oxford. During the Industrial revolution ragwort was distributed around the country via the thriving railway system that radiated out of Oxford. Photo: Stephen Middleton.

Purple dead nettle Lamium purpureum

Though similar to a nettle in appearance, it is not related and doesn't sting. The flowers may be produced throughout the year, including mild weather in winter. This allows bees to gather its nectar for food when few other nectar sources are available. It is also a prominent source of pollen for bees in March/April, when bees need the pollen as protein to build up their nest. WT

Purple toadflax Linaria purpurea

Closely related to the Antirrhinum (snapdragons) this plant grows to about a metre high. Its value lies in its flowering season which extends from April to late September and provides a valuable source of nectar for bees. Its leaves also provide food for a variety of moths.

Red Campion Silene dioica

There are five petals which are deeply notched at the end, narrowed at the base and all go into an urn-shaped calyx. The nectar of the flowers is utilised by bumblebees and butterflies. Crushed seeds of red campion have also been used to treat snakebites. WT

Remote sedge Carex remota

Tufted plant with short rhizomes , forming small tussocks with bright green leaves up to 30 cm tall.

Ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata

The deep veins visible on the leaves have earned the species its name 'ribwort'. Ribwort plantain is probably the most constant and widespread component of natural and semi-natural grassland in Britain. Photo: www.wildlifeinsight.com

Rosebay willowherb Chamerion angustifolium

This species is abundant in wet slightly acidic openfields but it has earned the nicknames 'fireweed' and 'bombweed' as a result of its tendancy to colonize quickly on burnt ground and bomb sites during World War II. The plant's rise from a local rarity is closely linked to the expansion of the railway network making it a perfectly natural inhabitant of Parkland Walk. WT

Russian vine Fallopia baldschuanica

Known by several common names including mile-a-minute and silver lace vine, it is a species of flowering plant in the knotweed family. It is a fast-growing plant that is grown as cover but has the capacity to grow beyond its intended limits. It is another of the species that needs to be kept under control.

Scilla Scilla siberica

Early spring-flowering bulbs with star shaped flowers most suited to deciduous woodlands

Shield fern Polystichum setiferum

The fern's bright green fronds are 30-120 cm long, usually drooping downslope, with typically 4-10 fronds on a mature plant.

White deadnettle Lamium album WT

Photo: Stephen Middleton

Yarrow Achillea millefolium

A list of alternative names reflect its uses in herbal medical treatments and early brewing techniques. The genus name is derived from the Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battlewounds. Names include Field hops, Knight's milefoil, Nosebleed, Old man's pepper, Soldier's Woundwort, and Sanguinary.

Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus

Yorkshire fog has velvety grey-green leavesand round shoots. The base of the shoots are white with pink stripes or veins - these are used in identification and are known by certain ecologists as 'stripey pyjamas'. It's a popular food source with Speckled Wood, Wall and Small Skipper butterflies. Photo: www.ukwildflowers.com

Zig zag clover Trifolium medium

Similar to red clover but for narrow stipules and by having longer thinner leaves which grow on a zig zagging stem.