The flora of Périgord in South-West France is abundant and diverse. In this blog you can find, in pictures, brief encounters with several hundreds of wild flowers and plants as they grow here in French Perigord. Following the seasons other species are added. An index of scientific and English names you find below on the right.
Corine Oosterlee is a botanist and photographer and she offers guided Botanical Walks and other activities around plants and vegetation in nature in Perigord. Do you want to know more? The site Baladebotanique in English offers more information. For more photography see Corine Oosterlee.
May 23, 2020
Many grasses flower in May. Also this Fern-grass (Catapodium rigida) that shows off the little whitish stamens that cover its spikelets, as if somebody sprinkled them with sugar.
Grasses (Poaceae) are anemochores, they need the wind to disperse their pollen. Not that easy to take advantage of the wind if you are small and low on the ground.
Apparently, Fern-grass manages well, it flourishes notwithstanding its small size. It grows everywhere in arid spots where there is not much other vegetation. Like a limestone meadow on dry soil, between the gravel on a path, or, as here above, on a stone wall.
It does not really look like a fern.
More like a toothbrush. Its spikelets are in two rows both turned towards one side.
For a plant so tiny it is rather conspicuous, even between more colourful Trefoils you cannot not see it.
May 15, 2020
Especially in somewhat ruderalized surroundings and not far from human activity you can find Sow-thistles. Those big 'Thistles' enjoyed the rain from past weeks to grow really big. The two species here below are easy to find. They look much alike.
Here Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper) on the side of a small road. (Take 'prickly' with a grain of salt.)
And here Perennial Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) on the edge of a field. (Also take 'perennial' with a grain of salt, it is mostly annual.) Both species have yellow flowers in open, slightly chaotic, panicles.
Maybe the inflorescences of Prickly Sow-thistle are a bit less dense, and the flowers of a slightly darker yellow...
...than those of Perennial Sow-thistle). But the difference is not really big.
For a safe bet, look at the leaves.
Perennial Sow-thistle has deeply incised leaves often glaucous and not shiny. Where the leaf is attached to the stem there is on both sides a pointed auricle.
The leaves of Prickly Sow-thistle are prickly, of course, but they are nothing compared to those of real thistles. They are brilliant on the upper surface, and green with sometimes a tinge of red. There are also auricles, and they are rounded.
And this spring rosette? Difficult to see, notwithstanding its bluish colour it is a Prickly Sow-thistle.
May 12, 2020
Because of lockdown we have to stay near our homes. In Dordogne there are still many corners with interesting wildflowers, and you risk, even when you respect lockdown rules, to come upon some surprising plants. Like this little yellow pea, an Annual Pea (Lathyrus annuus) that grows on the edge of a field just a bit more than 100 m from a house.
Its leaves look like the grass blades on which it attaches itself with its curling vines. If there are no flowers it is surely difficult to find it.
This plant made already big pods covered with very fine hairs. A fair chance it will be back next year. It was not evident to find its name, it is not yet in the 'flore de Dordogne'. There are only very few mentions for this species in Dordogne, so it is very rare and it is really extraordinary to stumble upon it.
Some questions need to be asked. Why is Annual Pea so rare? It is considered as a Mediterranean plant, is it enlarging its area towards the North because spring temperatures are on the rise? Or has it been here since long and has become rare because of (let's say) destruction of habitat? Or has it been always rare?
May 3, 2020
At this moment it is in flower and the rain that fell so much those first days of May does not matter.
Common Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) is a bush you can find in many places. It can grow nearly everywhere on limestone soil, and often also elsewhere.
It makes beautiful bunches of white flowers, every flower with four petals, four stamens and a style.
Sometimes it covers with its branches and leaves that easily turn red piles of stones, old walls and forgotten corners in abandoned grounds.
Its leaves show typical curved, deep lying veins, they are easy to recognize.
April 28, 2020
Open limestone slopes still look rather barren. The flowers that are in bloom now are mostly small species, the 'big flowering' begins in May. This Siberian Spurge(Euphorbia seguieriana) is larger and it does not have much competition just now.
Its luminous yellow-green tufts grow here and there.
It is easy to recognize as a real spurge with its typical flowers. Little hanging balls inside each flower are the young fruits.
Its leaves are bluish green and narrow as those of conifers, but not as stiff, they are soft to touch. The image is taken in summer, the umbel on the left is completely dried out.
How festive all this new green is!
April 21, 2020
At this moment there is an explosion of flowering in white. The main responsability for this conflagration is shared by several plants, of which the most important is doubtless Oneseed Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).
Here you see it, a small tree, behind a cloud of Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).
How beautiful it is, this Hawthorn! And then, it has a sweet scent!
If you look at a flower in detail you see it has only one style (and one ovary also, but that is invisibly hidden at the bottom of the flower where the fruit will develop). That's why there is 'monogyna' in its name. Stamina with pink pollen surround it.
Oneseed Hawthorn grows in hedgerows, woodland edges and even in the shade in the midst of a forest. Often its branches entwine with those of other trees and bushes.
In autumn its leaves in the shape of little hands turn yellow. Some dark red fruits are still there, waiting for birds to come and eat them.
April 20, 2020
Most Speedwells have blue flowers and Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis) is no exception. And its flowers are really tiny.
As is also the whole plant, here early in the season in a dry meadow.
In its corolla the petals are joint together to form a kind of funnel. Every plant makes a lot of flowers but because they are short-lived and easily fall off you mostly see buds and fruits.
The fruits are heart-shaped with often a remnant of a style still visible. The stalks get longer after flowering to make place for all those fruits.
Wall Speedwell is a common plant. As it name says, it grows on top of stone walls but also in fields, gardens and open spaces in meadows. Or as here in a spot where last year someone made a fire of branches.