May in the Woods

Photo of woodland pathDuring May the British woodland truly springs into life, so much so that it bursts forth from the bushes all over the paths. A quiet bimble as dawn breaks will reward you with bank voles scurrying for cover and rabbits lolloping along the paths, as the squirrels crash about in the canopy.

The bluebells and primroses have given way to  ramsons, buttercups and herb robert. Ramsons are also known as wild garlic or Allium ursinum, due to their popularity with brown bears. In the UK they are an indicator of ancient woodland. All parts of the plant are edible, there is evidence of humans eating them since Mesolithic and Neolithic times. The Swiss would add the leaves to cattle fodder to produce milk and butter with a hint of garlic. Anecdotally, garlic is a cure for many ailments and was often hung above doors to prevent disease (and vampires) from entering the home.

Photo of inkcap fungiThere is also fungi to be found. I believe this is a type of inkcap, possibly glistening inkcap fungi. My fungi identification skills are so woeful that I have the potential to poison thousands!

Another flower that you may be lucky to catch if your timing is right is the early purple orchid, or Orchis mascula. Shakespeare refers to them as “long purples” and they form part of Ophelia’s garland as she tragically drowns in Hamlet (see also this post and this post):

There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook.

As the warmth of the sun becomes stronger, so the insects become busier. Horseflies filled with spring flush become amorous on the tree bark, a speckled wood butterfly flits among the brambles and a spider spins a glinting web to catch the careless, carefree winged creatures. 


And so we too take flight and leave the joys of spring behind, as we float on a summer breeze towards June.

8 thoughts on “May in the Woods

  1. Pingback: Crow Sitting | rambling ratz

  2. Pingback: May in the Woods – Rattiesforeverworldpresscom

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