In keeping with our tradition of having more plants blooming on the paths than in the borders, the paving cracks are bursting forth with these cheery yellow hawkweed flowers.
Hawkweeds are related to dandelions and are members of the Asteraceae family, genus hierakion. The name is derived from the Greek word for hawk, hierax, folklore has it that hawks drank the juice of this plant to sharpen their eyesight. There are many different species of hawkweed and a great deal of variation within them. The only one that I can confidently identify is the orange hawkweed, Pilosella aurantiaca, commonly known as “fox and cubs”. It is a beautiful wildflower that is in the RHS top 400 perfect plants for pollinators.
The delightfully named mouse ear hawkweed was a folk medicine for coughs. The apothecary to James I, John Parkinson, also suggested it as a sedative for horses, ‘Mouseare’ be given to any horse it ‘will cause that he shall not be hurt by the smith that shooeth him.’
On one of the few sunny days that we had this summer I found that the hawkweed was being enjoyed by this little solitary bee. A kind person suggested that it was likely to be of the genus Lasioglossum.
Another hawkweed hoverer was this drone hoverfly, a bee mimic.
As you can see it is doing a fantastic job of collecting and redistributing pollen.
I am not clever enough to tell whether it is Eristalis pertinax or Eristalis tenax.
Tenax has black ankles and pertinax has yellow ankles, so it is all down to the hoverfly’s ankles rather than the bee’s knees.The goldenrod was another bright yellow flower attracting pollinating insects.