After we left the Suffolk Punch Trust we drove a couple of miles to Shingle Street on the coast.
I wanted to visit this beach to look at the plants and flowers that live on the shingle. I had heard that it was a desolate spot but when we were there the place was teeming with kite-surfers!
The name ‘Bugloss’ derives from the Greek for ‘ox-tongued’ – the plant is quite rough and bristly to the touch. Parts of the plant are also thought to look like a snake – the fruits, which are said to resemble an adder’s head, used to be used to cure snake bites even though the plant is poisonous!
According to my field guide, the flowers are honey-scented when fresh and smell of new-mown hay when dry. In days gone by, it was said to discourage fleas and so was added to straw mattresses especially for the beds of women about to give birth.
I was very pleased to see this plant still in flower! Usually I find it too late to admire the bright pink flowers. It is a nationally scarce plant but where it is happy it grows well and plentifully. My field guide tells me that the seed pods resemble garden pea-pods and were eaten (apparently) in Suffolk in times of famine (e.g. 1555). The pods are toxic in large quantities.
This visit to the Shingle Street beach was a very pleasant end to an enjoyable day.
Thanks for visiting!
Harrap’s Wild Flowers: Simon Harrap