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PETTY WHIN

Genista anglica

Pea Family [Fabaceae]

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

category
category8Shrubs
category
category8Deciduous
category
category8Broadleaf
status
statusZnative
 
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
 
morph
morph8zygo
 
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
 
stem
stem8round
 
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
 
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
(curved
spines)
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 
 

7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Usually a low plant barely a foot high, and spreading, but can reach the dizzying heights of 1m. Here almost all turned to pods, with just about 5 flowering stalks. Cowberry is top right corner. It likes to grow on heaths and moors, especially with Heather but there is no heather in the immediate vicinity.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Just 5 weeks into a gloriously sunny May and beginning of June most of the flowers have already turned to fruit: which are inflated pods. Only 4 or 5 flowering stalks left.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are hairless, untoothed and simple but are of two types: round to elliptical ones and those on the spines which are approximately linear (best seen half-way down the stem on the right) - although not all spines have them.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Compared to Gorse the flowers are about half the length (if that). But the stiff woody (not green as in Gorse) spines are just as lethal!


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The topmost flower is still intact, there are two florets on the side yet to open, but the lower two are in the process of turning to pods (which at present are the green cylinders within the two closely-clasping keel petals) still with the long style attached to the far end of the pod but curling up.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Why the long face? Very unusual amongst Pea family (Fabaceae) flowers the keel (inner two of the lower petals) is longer than the standard (aka banner). Also - the wings either side of the keel are shorter than the keel.

The lower flowers are turning to fruit, which can be seen as a pale-green cylinder nestling within the keel.



7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
It is a very rude flower with its 'mouth' wide apart and sticking its 'tongue' out in defiance. A papery white tube sticks out between banner and keel + wings in a provocative way. This tube is part of the anther: the white tube splits into 10 narrow white filaments each bearing a cream-coloured anther. Emerging from this tube is a long style which curves upwards and over. The style is attached to the tip of what will become the bladder-type inflated seed-pod, which at the moment is contained within the white tube. The flower nestles tightly within a pale-green sepal cup with 5 teeth; two on the banner above and three one the lower petals.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Open wide! A view from above the flower, banner at the top. The lower flower is generating a pod; narrow and pale-green contained within a decaying keel so far.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
A flowering stem with leaves on green stems topped by a small bunch of flowers. The green stem abuts onto the top of a woody stem.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The rear of the main leaves has a speckly appearance like those on leaves of plants which grow near the sea and have to get rid of an excess of salt through these pores. Petty Whin does sometimes grow next to the seaside, especially in foreign lands, but not particularly in the UK where it is just as likely to be growing well inland, where this specimen was.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The pimples on the rear of the leaves.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Sharp! thorns and meandering ribs on the bark which come together then part again in succession on the woody stems. The stiff, very sharp, half-woody spines are curved downwards. Fifferently shaped (nearly linear) leaves grow on some of the spines.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The seed pods are inflated bladders, pumped full of a gas. It is a great wonder that the sharp spines do not pop them and deflate them, (or maybe once inflated, they stay that shape even after punctured?). Another Fabaceae plant which has inflated pods is Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens) but that has larger pods.


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
The inflated pods, at 12 - 20mm long, are shorter than the inflated pods to be found on Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens) which are 50 - 70mm long!


7th June 2018, Grindleford, Derbys. Photo: © RWD
Each pod still has the style attached at the far end. Pods are green at first turning a muddy colour.


Some similarities to : Bladder Senna (Colutea arborescens) which also has yellow pea-type flowers and inflated seed pods, but that is much taller (greater than 2m) and the pods at 50 - 70mm much longer than the 12 - 20mm long of Petty Whin.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

No relation to : Petty Spurge (Euphorbia peplus) [a plant with a simila names belonging to different family].


  Genista anglica  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fabaceae  

Distribution
 family8Pea family8Fabaceae

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genus8Genista
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(Greenweeds)

PETTY WHIN

Genista anglica

Pea Family [Fabaceae]