Saturday, 22 June 2013

Lamb's tongue

Growing amongst the grass and other field flowers is the rather insignificant Ribwort Plantain or Lamb's Tongue.  It's in flower now at Filnore Woods.  
Because its leaves and flower stalks all originate at the base of the plant it is good at surviving lawn mowing or grazing by livestock.  So you often find it in domestic lawns.  Here is one in my lawn.  You can see the veins on the leaf standing out like ribs to give it its Ribwort name. 
For this reason it has also been used by archaeologists to date the beginning of agriculture in various parts of Europe.  When Ribwort pollen appears in the soil it seems to correlate with the onset of a farming culture with grazing cattle.
Like many of our apparently dull wild flowers, when you look closely they are little gems.

The flower heads or seed heads are also used by younger people in a centuries old game, where the stem is wrapped around the seedhead, which is then flicked off as a miniature missile.  My children used to recite the rather macabre mantra, "Molly 'ad a dolly and 'er 'ed popped off," as they flicked.


  1. Thank you for getting your visitors to open our eyes to these small plants. (Sorrel and dock sound like sister and brother) And I will look out for lamb's tongue now.

  2. I thought the blog was really interesting with some lovely photos.
    I seem to remember playing a form of "Conkers" with plantain stems at junior school.


Please leave a comment so I know that someone is reading all this!