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07 Dec 2021

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Hunt for white campion

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Hunt for white campion

White campion. Picture: Nuala Madigan

This week I came across a pretty white flower growing along a grass roadside verge lined with a tall hedge and identified it as white campion (coireán bán as Gaeilge).

The white flowers popped out from the green setting they were growing in. White campion is not believed to be native and considered an introduced wildflower, but although introduced it is not thought as of invasive. Some species introduced to Ireland can have a negative impact on our native wildlife and habitats including, but not limited to, rhododendron and Japanese knotweed. These species are competitive and their escape from ornamental gardens into Ireland’s wild places has had devastating consequences for some areas. Those introduced plants that grow like this are known as invasive.

White campion can grow to a height of one metre, which is impressive. The five white petals are deeply divided and flower between May and September each year, so you have plenty of opportunity to find this species in your local area.

What is particularly interesting about white campion is you can tell the difference between male and female flower heads. All flowers have male and female parts. The female part of the flower is known as the pistel.

The pistel is the seed bearing part of the flower consisting of the ovary, the stigma and style. The male part of flowering plants is known as the stamen. This is the pollen bearing part of the flower.

In dioecious flowers such as white campion, the female and male parts are borne on individual flowers rather than within the same flowering head.

Within the male flower you will count 10 stamen and within the female flower you will count only five styles.

The stems of white campion that support both the leaves and flowers are reddish/wine and covered in hairs. The leaves are green and oval shaped and taper to a point at the tip. They are also covered in hair and are sticky to the touch.

Will you find white campion in your local area this week?

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species contact me via e-mail bogs@ipcc.ie.

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