Sunday, 13 September 2015

Ploughman's Spikenard

The season is definitely winding down now, but some species are still going strong. Ploughman's Spikenard (Inula conyzae) is one such species and is relatively uncommon in both VC31 and VC64, although in the former it appears to have increased in recent years. It is a species of dry rough grassland on calcareous substrates, particularly in open scrub habitats and at the woodland edge. In VC31 it occurs locally on the boulder clays, while in VC64 it is very much a speciality of the Magnesian Limestone to the east of Leeds, although it is of scattered occurrence in the Dales also. The following photo is from Swillington (VC64).

And, in case like me, you were wondering why the weird name! Apparently its the poor man's equivalent of true Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansii), a Himalayan plant with perfumed roots. The roots of our plant have an aromatic smell and were sometimes dried to hang up or burn as a room-freshener.

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