Friday, 19 April 2013

Double-hard danica

Driving along a busy dual-carriageway the other day I noticed a beautiful sliver of tiny white flowers that had spread along the narrow strip of grass adjacent to the road.   The flowers were on the very edge of the road, in the areas where the grass had receded due to the constant pollution from the vehicles and the salt spray from where the gritters had been hard at work keeping our roads free of ice in the winter.   That has to be one of the toughest plants in Britain.   Less than a minute's research on the internet revealed that it was  Cochlearia danica or danish scurvy-grass.

The plant mostly grows on coastal areas and but started spreading inland some thirty years ago. This hardy wild flower thrives on the high levels of salt created by winter road gritting and the seeds have been propagated by the internal combustion engine. Rich in vitamin C, the leaves were eaten by sailors on returning from voyages as this cured the vitamin deficiency known as scurvy.

Cochlearia danica

Duallus carriagewayicus

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