Plants of OP Wildflower Bank and the wildlife they can support
“Remember… plant diversity means insect diversity”
Over 97% of ancient wildflower meadows have been lost in the UK since the 1930s and the loss of these habitats has resulted in the decline in many of our pollinating insects.
Moth numbers have declined by over a third during the last 30 years and a major cause of this is loss of suitable habitat. This loss of moths and other invertebrates in turn has a negative effect on populations of other creatures such as bats and birds which eat moths and invertebrates.
Why Our Road Verge Wildflower Habitat is so Important
Find Out More from Plantlife
Excerpt adapted from: Orchard Park Habitats Management Plan written by
The Wildlife Trust BCN
The verge in front of the primary school on Ring Fort Road consists of three sections of low bank which have each been sown with a wildflower and grass seed mix to benefit wildlife. In the wider countryside, swathes of natural grassland have been lost to agriculture, development and pasture. Within Orchard Park there are opportunities to help remediate against this loss and provide havens for wildlife. The species sown here were selected for their suitability to the locality and the food and shelter they provide invertebrates. These creatures will in turn be food for birds and small mammals and are key in supporting a healthy ecosystem. The gradual variation in slope provides slightly different microhabitats so more niches for species to exploit.
At the time of this survey (25/06/14) the vegetation on the two banks in front of the school had been cut. From the cuttings that were left on the ground it was clear that some plants had still been flowering and were therefore of great value to insects. The third bank, at the southern end had not yet been cut and was buzzing with life. The flowers of the wild carrot, common knapweed, lady’s bedstraw, tufted vetch and common ragwort attracted many insects such as butterflies, beetles, moths and bees. Within this short stretch of habitat, 20 meadow brown butterflies were observed alongside ringlets, small tortoiseshells and common blue damselflies….
All photos by OPWP unless otherwise credited.
Plants organised by flower colour
We have 8 of the 10 road verge species identified by Plantlife as supporting the highest numbers of invertebrates – these are the flowers with names highlighted in green in the flowering month chart, they are ranked, and the number of invertebrate species each plant supports is shown in brackets.
Daisy Bellis perennis
The yellow centre of the oxeye daisy is made up of many small flowers which hold nectar, and are exploited by various pollinating insects, including butterflies, bees and hoverflies, in total up to 85 species can be supported.
Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare
Can support up to 85 species of invertebrates.
Hedge Bedstraw Galium album
In total can support 101 invertebrate species.
White Clover Trifolium repens
Trefoil leaves are collected by Wood Mice and are one of the foodplants of Common Blue Butterflies, while the flowers are sought after by all kinds of bumblebees. White Clover can support 98 species of invertebrates.
Vernacular names include Milky blobs, Sheepy-maa’s and Bee-bread. The latter name “Bee-bread” derives from the fact that the white flowers can be pulled out of the heads and sucked for a bead of honey.
White Campion Silene latifolia [white flower]
Unlike many wildflowers, the flowers of White Campion remain open as dusk descends, at which time they are slightly scented and attract moths such as the Noctuid, as pollinators.
Hedge Bindweed Calystegia sepium
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Flowers June to September being attractive to butterflies, bees and insects. Can support up to 141 species of invertebrates.
Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris
Supports arthropod species.
Shepherd’s-purse Capsella bursa-pastoris
Wild Carrot Daucus carota
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata [plant at the bottom right with long thin leaves and brush like flowerhead]
Flowers between April and October, but its seedheads remain for most of the winter providing food for Goldfinches and other seed-eating birds.
Dandelion Taraxacum agg.
Can support up to 107 species of invertebrates.
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Black Medick Medicago lupulina
Bristly Oxtongue Helminthotheca echioides [taller plant with yellow flowers]
Its flowers attract pollinators from June to October
Common Cat’s-ear Hypochaeris radicata
Common Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
It is known that there are at least thirty species of invertebrates which are totally dependent on ragwort as a food source. There are many other species which require its nectar and pollen. In total 107 species of invertebrates might be supported. As a common plant which is a good nectar source it is often a major and important resource for many declining species including the Cinnabar Moth.
Charlock Sinapis arvensis
Prickly Lettuce Lactuca serriola
Smooth Hawk’s-beard Crepis capillaris [smaller yellow flowers below]
Important pollen forage plant for solitary bees.
Beaked Hawk’s beard Crepis vesicaria
Hop Trefoil Trifolium campestre
Lesser Trefoil Trifolium dubium [yellow flowers with three leaves]
Cowslip Primula veris
It’s nectar is good for bees and early butterflies including the brimstone. Cowslip is also the food plant of the rare Duke of Burgundy fritillary. Other insects benefit, including pollen beetles. For more information see: https://opwildlife.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/cowslips/
Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum
Lady’s bedstraw is thought to be so-called because its dried flowers were traditionally used for stuffing straw mattresses, often for pregnant women, as the coumarin scent kills fleas and the plant was thought to aid a safe delivery. It provides a rich source of nectar for pollinating insects such as bumble bees and butterflies. It also provides food for caterpillars. In total 101 species can be supported.
Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Flowers from May to October and is mainly pollinated by bees and is the larval food plant for a number of moth species including both six and five spot burnet, and of the common blue butterfly. Can support up to 160 species of invertebrates.
Hedge Mustard Sisymbrium officinale
Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra
and Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa
Favourite of all kinds of butterflies including Common Blues, and Meadow Browns. Wild flowers also provide nesting sites, larval food, forage and shelter. Good nectar and pollen provider for a variety of other insects, including bees, beetles and flies; once the common knapweed has been pollinated it will attract birds, such as goldfinches, that feed on its seeds. It will also attract other small birds that want to feed on the bugs taking nectar from the flower head.
Chicory Cichorium intybus
Common Vetch Vicia sativa
Tufted Vetch Vicia cracca
The bright purple flowers are often heavy with pollen so they attract bees of different species, and it is also beneficial to the soil because as a legume, it is a nitrogen fixer. Great for long-tongued bumblebees, like the Garden Bumblebee.
Smooth Tare Vicia tetrasperma
Common Field-speedwell Veronica persica
Flowers throughout the year and is self-fertile. The flowers are visited by insects but are often self-pollinated.
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
A disproportionate loss of long flowering bee forage plants like Red Clover may be an important factor in bee decline; having long, deep flower tubes (corollae), they can only be accessed by insects with long tongues, such as butterflies and long-tongued bees. Can support up to 115 species of invertebrates.
Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill Geranium dissectum
Betony Betonica officinalis
Teasel Dipsacus fullonum
Visited by bees when in flower, and birds, particularly Goldfinch when seeding.
Salad Burnet Poterium sanguisorba
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius
Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa
Curled Dock Rumex crispus
Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne
Red Fescue Festuca rubra ssp.rubra
Smaller Cat’s-tail Phleum bertolonii
Black Bent grass Agrostis gigantea
Cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata
Crested Dog’s-tail Cynosurus cristatus
Yorkshire-fog Holcus lanatus
Barren Brome Anisantha sterilis
Smooth Meadow-grass Poa pratensis
Soft-brome Bromus hordeaceus
Invertebrates organised by taxonomic group
Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum
Common Blue Damselfy Enallagma cyathigerum
Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella
Grasshoppers & bush-crickets
Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus
Meadow Plant Bug Leptopterna dolabrata
For more information see: https://www.britishbugs.org.uk/heteroptera/Miridae/leptopterna_dolabrata.html
Swollen-thighed Flower Beetle Oedemera nobilis
Rove Beetle Staphylinidae sp.
Not identified to species, no picture available.
Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina
Miridae Stenotus binotatus
Adults fly June-September
For more information see: https://opwildlife.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/cuckoo-spit/
Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus
Hoverfly Eupeodes sp.
Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta
Pied Hoverfly Scaeva pyrastri
Hoverfly Syrphus ribesii
Common Pollen Beetle Meligethes aeneus
Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis
For more information see: http://www.harlequin-survey.org
Flower Beetle Oedemera lurida
For more information see: https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/thick-legged-flower-beetle
Butterflies and Moths
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Ringlet Butterfly Aphantopus hyperantus
Common Blue Butterfly Polyommatus icarus
Small White Butterfly Pieris rapae
For more information see: https://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=rapae
Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae
For more information see: https://butterfly-conservation.org/11908-1319/cinnabar.html
Common Yellow Conch Moth Agapeta hamana
Garden Grass Veneer Chrysoteuchia culmella
For more information see: https://www.ukmoths.org.uk/species/chrysoteuchia-culmella
Yellow Satin Moth Crambus perlella
Twin-barred Knot-horn Homeosoma sinuella
Small Black Ant Lasius niger
Large Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius
Common Carder Bumblebee Bombus pascuorum
White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum
Photo credit: Graham Calow, NatureSpot
Garden Spider Araneus diadematus
For more information see: http://britishspiders.org.uk/wiki2015/index.php?title=Araneus_diadematus
Full text with references for all information can be found at: Summary Flowers 2 with wildlife benefit with references