PLOUGHMAN'S SPIKENARD

Inula conyzae

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]

Flowers:
month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Pappus: pappusZpossible (bristles, rose coloured)
pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
inner
inner8brown
 
petals
petalsZ0
 
type
typeZumbel
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8perfume
perfume

9th Aug 2012, Grange over Sands, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Grows from 20cm to 80cm but can reach 1.25m. Here enjoying the limelight by a limestone wall. Basal leaves up to 12cm long.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
A young specimen not fully grown to 4 feet; this one only 18 inches high. Flowers in umbel-like open clusters at top of stems. Flowers with disc florets only; no ray florets.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Sand Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Upper leaves long, lanceolate, almost stalkless and curving downwards. Flowering main stem with several thinner flowering branches. Abundant flower heads.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Sand Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Stem ridged, hairy and brownish-purple. Un-opened flowers are sometimes a striking reddish-purple on their bracts.


9th Aug 2012, the sea-wall, Grange-over-Sands, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
It is likely that the new population right up against the seaward side of the sea wall west of Grange-over-Sands are a result of seeds being blown out to sea and then washed back up along the sea-wall at high tide (and green grass). This must mean the plant is also salt-tolerant.


9th Aug 2012, the sea-wall, Grange-over-Sands, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Leaves net-veined.


9th Aug 2012, the sea-wall, Grange-over-Sands, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The numerous overlapping pyllaries are curved over at the top.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
This yellower specimen (the first your Author ever found of this plant) has narrower more-linear leaves and a mass of thistle-like but yellow flowers.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Foliage a golden green. Leaves long, linear, matte, and supple. Flowers surrounded by a corona of light-green sepal-like bracts (phyllaries), brownish purple on the outside.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flower-head consists of a compact mass of disc-florets; no ray florets present.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Sand Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers clustered together in a small bunch. In hot weather the once green bracts wrapping the flower up in overlapping and ever-shorter rings have a tendency to redden to a shiny reddish-purple.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Pointed phyllaries peel away from flower-head at intervals in a way not dis-similar to those of Slender Thistle. The bracts, which are brownish purple especially when in bud, are hairy and without sharp points.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Sand Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The bracts envelop the flower in rings of shorter and shorter bracts. The tips are triangularly pointed, fold out and are green.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Sand Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The outer bracts are hairier than the inner. The disc florets in this flower are ripening to yellow.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The ray florets remain in a cylindrical bunch, with the sepal-like bracts (phyllaries) peeling away in whorls around it. Outer ray florets are streaked brown/purple.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are between 7-12mm across with the disc-florets being about 6mm long. Brownish-purple streaks on outer edges of bracts.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Disc florets are deep yellow and have the usual five points. Any ray florets present are very short and very thin (outer stray ones)


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Presumably these parts, on top of the plant, have yet to grow taller.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Upper leaves are lanceolate, attaching directly to the stems without stalks. All leaves hairy. Stems brownish purple


8th July 2009, Ainsdale dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Lower leaves more linear than lanceolate, also without stalks.


The above specimen is a young one, not fully matured to 4 feet high, and at only 18 inches high is not as open at the top as more mature specimens.

It has flowers not dis-similar to those of Groundsel or Heath Groundsell, and, apart from the deep yellow colouring, quite similar to those of Blue Fleabane, or to Slender Thistle particularly in regard to the bracts appearing around the flower-head in whorls, and peeling off at intervals.

It was used in mediaeval times to make an expensive perfume, and ploughmen used to hang this plant up in their huts to sweeten the air.

Likes to grow in open woods, often on disturbed grassland on dry soils over limy places such as chalk, limestone or sand. In your Authors opinion it is frequently found near the coast (those are the only places he has ever seen it growing) which makes him think that this plant must be salt tolerant, especially considering the population growing on the sea-ward side of the sea-wall west of Grange-over-Sands.

Although the flowers are self-sterile (they wont fertilise themselves) they are hermaphrodite (having both male and female parts). The seeds are downy with a rose coloured pappus. Despite its striking attractiveness it is a native plant.


  Inula conyzae  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
 family8Daisy & Dandelion family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Inula
Inula
(Fleabanes)

PLOUGHMAN'S SPIKENARD

Inula conyzae

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]

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