1. Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
A deep-rooted perennial that carpets pastures and roadside verges, providing nectar and pollen that are vital food resources for wild bees. The plumed seeds are eaten by goldfinches.
2. Rock-Rose - Helianthemum nummularia
A tough perennial whose stems become woody with age, forming a low-growing shrub. A widespread plant of chalk and limestone grassland, thriving in rocky pastures on dry, south-facing slopes.
3. Crosswort - Cruciata laevipes
Often found in dry grassland, especially on lime-rich soils, where its dense masses of scented greenish-yellow flowers attract hoverflies. Identified by its square stems, with neat whorls of four leaves.
4. Yellow Rattle - Rhinanthus minor
A key component of traditional hay meadows. Partially parasitic on the roots of grasses, weakening their growth and allowing other species to compete in the sward. Pollinated by bumblebees.
5. Globe Flower - Trollius europaeus
Resembles a double-flowered buttercup with blooms that can be as large as golf balls. A declining species of damp, unimproved grassland but still locally abundant in some Pennine dales.
6. Buttercup - Ranunculus acris
This is the plant that covers pastures with a mist of yellow flowers in early summer. It contains acrid sap and so is avoided by grazing animals, but it’s harmless and palatable when dried as hay.
7. Bird’s-foot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
Some of the low-growing clusters of yellow flowers may be tinged bright red, hence the alternative name of ‘eggs-and-bacon’. It thrives best on poor, well-drained soils that restrict the height of surrounding grasses.
8. Meadow Vetchling - Lathyrus pratensis
The clusters of flowers are held on long stems above competing vegetation. Its climbing habit, aided by tendrils, allows it to keep pace with the growth of surrounding tall grasses.
9. Tall Melilot - Melilotus altissimus
The leaves contain high levels of coumarin and when crushed release an intense aroma of new-mown hay. A tall plant of grassy waste places and field margins, it’s very attractive to bees.
May is the month when many grasslands turn from green to gold, as wildflowers dress in their early summer finery. Yellow flowers are particularly dominant and will hum with insects as the month progresses.
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