Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Herb Paris

Herb Paris, Coldwell Parrock Lane, Lancashire

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In an entry back in August last year, I promised to blip Herb Paris (Paris quadrifolia) in the Spring as it was a bit too moth-eaten back then. So here it is.

The special feature of this plant is that all its parts are in fours or multiples of four (it's much commoner for plants to have flowers with parts in multiples of either 3 or 5). It has four leaves in a terminal whorl on a short stalk of up to 30 cm (hence the specific name). There are 8 stamens, 4 styles on the ovary, 8 tepals (4 narrower inner, 4 broader outer).

It's not a rare plant, but then it isn't common either. It is often overlooked growing with Dog's Mercury on the woodland floor. It is usually a sign of ancient woodlands and hedgerows as it tends to spread vegetatively rather than by seed. Last year I collected and planted some seeds in pots at home, though nothing has germinated yet. It may well take another year before it comes through.

There are two other photographs posted here, these show a bit more detail of the whole plant.

Spring is moving rapidly on, I stopped to look at the stand of Herb Paris plants less than a week ago, and they were apparently nowhere near flowering.

After taking these shots, I went on to Leighton Moss and picked up my first sedge and reed warblers of the year. That takes the year list on to 124.

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