SHEPHERD'S-NEEDLE

SHEPHERD'S NEEDLE

Scandix pecten-veneris

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZarchaeophyte
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8pink
morph
morph8hemizygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8round
rarity
rarityZuncommon

9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
An almost hairless annual which grows to 50cm in height.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
Has very fine filigree leaves resembling those of Mayweeds, such as Scentless Mayweed which grow in similar arable fields and waste places.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
When it is in fruit, the fruit are the most striking feature of this plant: very long and thin and almost bolt upright.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
It is an umbellifer, but one with only very few flowers in each umbel. On the left in the distance are two or three umbels of flowers; on the right are 5 fruits in an umbel with the flowers still partly attached on top.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
Four umbellets of flowers sitting atop still very short, but lengthening, fruits. The umbels the umbellets belong to are 70-90mm across.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The flowers are zygomorphic but in an actinomorphic arrangement. Perhaps better described as hemizygomorphic. The top of the developing fruit has a pair of pink stylopodia and two almost parallel pale-green styles.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
At the junction where the umbellets start are several long and deeply-cut bracteoles, but there are no bracts on the umbels. The styles at the top of the long fruits diverge slightly from one another.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The fruits are slightly hairy with short hairs. Beneath them a ring of cut/toothed bracteoles.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The toothed bracteoles.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The toothed bracteoles surrounding the umbelett. What seems strange to your Author are the way that the long fruits are attached to the umbel: apparently 'shoved' on a shorter and thinner stub. The bottom part of the fruits are thicker and hairier and slightly ribbed where they are apparently 'shoved' onto the stubs. Your Author has not noticed this feature on any other umbellifer. [Ignore the parachuted seed on the left which is from another plant].

Aha: Apparently, the thicker part near the bottom is where the seeds are; and the upper part of the fruit is called the 'beak' which in the case of Shepherd's-needle is between 3 and 5 times longer than the seed bearing part.



9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The pink stylopodia atop the long fruits, topped by a pair of straight, but slightly diverging, fairly long white styles.


9th May 2007, Photo: © Bastiaan Brak
The leaves are almost round in cross-section, branched (2 to 3-pinnate), very fine and red-tipped.


Not to be semantically confused with : Spanish-needles (Bidens bipinnata), Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa), Needle Spike-rush (Eleocharis acicularis) nor with any of the three foreign Needle-grasses such as Argentine Needle-grass (Nassella tenuissima), Shepherd's-Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), Shepherd's Cress (Teesdalia nudicaulis), Red Shepherd's-purse (Capsella rubella) [plants with similar names belonging to differing families]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The extremely long (3-7cm) needle-like fruit which stick up like fingers.

The plant only scores a single [R] on the rarity front (in 2010) but in another book published in 2013 it is listed as 'Critically Endangerd'. It is found in arable fields only in central and southern England. Also, one book published in 2003 lists it as increasing, whereas another book published in 2013 claims it is decreasing. I guess it has its ups and downs. But with global warming taking a noticeable hold now in the UK (2017) many flowers will be finding it too hot to handle.

It has 1 to 3 umbellets in an umbel and the number of flowers in each umbellet is fairly low. From the specimen above your Author counts up to 6 flowers in an umbellet. It is an Archaeophyte.


  Scandix pecten-veneris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Carrot family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Scandix
Scandix
(Shepherd's-Needle)

SHEPHERD'S-NEEDLE

SHEPHERD'S NEEDLE

Scandix pecten-veneris

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]