Big thank you from

The resemblance with bird's feet that eludes me

by Paul Cormacain

CLEM Shaw tells me that the Clandeboye day for Conservation Volunteers is cancelled, and at short notice. Sorry about that.

Much bird's foot trefoil to be seen. Not surprisingly, as this is a very common flower, and it blooms for four months, is very striking and stands out in a field as an attractive flower.

Because it is so common it has managed to attract very many local names, from 'crow toes' to 'Lady's shoes and stockings', and other equally daft ones.

People with nothing better to do, or alternately people who care, have come up with a total of more than 70 local names.

Then again, even the common name, bird's foot, is a pretty, daft name when you think about it. I personally have never seen, airy resemblance between the flower and any bird's feet, but some day someone might just tell me that I am wrong.

Even the 'trefoil' bit of the name is incorrect. The flower does not have three leaves, rather a total of five leaves. Three are found on the end of a short stem, closer to the main stem are another two leaves, which means a total of five leaves rather then three. This series of five leaves appears all along the stems.

So anyway, they are beautiful. flowers and very common.

Stewart and Corry's Flora of North East Ireland describes them as ubiquitous, and you will remember from school days that the word comes from the Latin, ubique. The Latin name for the flower is Lotus corniculatus.

You may also come across Hop trefoil, Lesser yellow trefoil, Slender trefoil, and Greater bird's-foil, on your travels.

Another lovely flower associated with a multiplicity of names is the Arum maculatum, possibly best known as Lords and Ladies.

This year I did not see any in flower, but of late I have seen some in the berry stage. They look nicer, more dramatic in the flower stage. Then a purplish, cylindrical shape of a flower head is shielded by a greenish-yellow spathe, or modified leaf.

In the fullness of time the flower develops and matures. Fertilised female flowers transform into red berries on a vertical stem, and it has to be said that they are much more highly visible than the flowers.

This would explain me missing the flowers this year, but seeing the berries.

Possibly to encourage humans to leave the berries, which contain seeds for the next generation, strictly alone; the Arum is highly poisonous in this state.

If adults take some of this poison, chances are they will survive. A child eating Arum could have fatal results. The message is, if anyone takes this, others should declare an instant emergency and get either adult or child to doctor or hospital immediately.

Coming Events

Saturdays and Sundays during August - Guided Walks, 2.30, Castle Espie, 028 9187 41

Sunday 26 August - As part of Marine Week, Rock Pool Rambling at Delamont Country Park, details from 028 4483 0282

Thursday 30 August Birdwatch Morning at 10.30 at Castle Espie, phone 028 9187 41146.

Saturday 1 September The very last RSPB cruise of the year, leaving Bangor North Pier at 5.30, on the lookout for rafts of Manx Shearwater.

Sunday 2 September Autumn Nature Ramble, noon, at Castle Espie, details 028 91874146.
Butterfly Conservation outing for grayling, wall, blue, small copper, and anything else, 10.30, in Lecale area, contact Trevor Boyd on 028 9185 2276.

Saturday 8 September Fancy a wee walk or a good dander over the hills? Two-hour guided walk over the Cave Hill organised by Bryson House, at 9am.
Food for Free at 2.30 amid the countryside around Oxford Island, phone 028 3822 2205

Thursday 27 September Birdwatch Morning at 10.30 at Castle Espie.

Ulster Star