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08 Dec 2021

Kildare Wildlife Watch: Marsh Woundwort

With the Bog of Allen Nature Centre

Kildare Wildlife Watch: Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort. Picture: Nuala Madigan

This week I have chosen to explore a species I identified and photographed last Summer while carrying out a wildlfower survey along the banks of the closed Mountmellick branch line of the Grand Canal in Monasterevin.

It was my first time to identify the species and I used a wonderful Irish website www.wildlfowersofireland.net to help me confirm my identification.

This week’s wildflower is marsh woundwort (cabhsadán as Gaelige), a native wildflower that you will find growing on damp and wet ground in your local area. It can grow to a height of 90cm, but at this time of year you will be looking for the emerging leaves. These leaves are lanceolate (a leaf that is narrow, long and tapers to a point), appear stalkless and have toothed edges.

I identified this species in the summer when in bloom, which helped during the identification. The flowers that will emerge in June will be a pinkish to purple in colour and are borne on a terminal spike at the top of the plant.

Its five petalled flowers have an unusual shape with a large lower petal that bears white markings and smaller petals above.

Another key identification feature of this wildflower are its square stems. The purpose of the colourful petals on any plant are to attract a pollinator and, in the case of marsh woundwort, the species is an important source of nectar for bumblebees.

Plants need pollination to allow the fruits to emerge which in turn protect the seeds that allow reproduction of the plant once they have been dispersed.

In traditional medicine, it was believed that extracts from this plant could help heal wounds.

As we all have been doing our part to support our communities and health care professionals by staying at home, I hope this wildflower will reminds us all that once the Covid-19 emergency has passed, our natural world will be waiting for us and it will be filled with bright summer colours.

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on 045-860133 or bogs@ipcc.ie.

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