Walking along Penrhos Beach, the tall cliff of sand on your landward side gives no clue to the beautiful flowers that are blooming behind it.
At first glance, as you climb (or stagger) over the sand dune there seems to be a carpet of yellow flowers. Mainly this is made up of vetches, trefoils and bedstraws, with some beautiful acid yellow stonecrops too.
The first impression is of a carpet of yellow…
…yellow bedstraw flowers…
But amongst all the yellows, there are lots of other colours including the pinky purples of orchids, wild liquorice (restharrow) and wild thyme.
One of the many orchids behind the dune cliff
Dotted amongst the yellow flowers there are several different orchids
The pink and white flowers of restharrow creep close to the ground
Patches of wild thyme form little mats, their flowers hardly bigger than pin heads
The flower heads of the grasses are beautiful too, like this little sand cats tail
And these beautiful pinky orange seed heads on a tiny little grass – possibly a dune fescue
It’s a bit of a shame when you come to the end of a beautiful walk through these flowers and arrive at one of the areas that were “improved” over the winter and spring…:(
One of the cleared areas on the edge of the dunes
Whilst epicureans seek out marsh samphire on the muddy foreshores, two other samphires are flowering on the rocks at Llanddwyn.
Golden samphire (Inula crithmoides) is particularly pretty. It has bright yellow daisy-like flowers and fleshy leaves with an aromatic, citrusy scent. Golden samphire is quite scarce in the UK, so we’re lucky to have it here.
Golden samphire (Inula crithmoides).
Golden samphire flowers
Rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum) also has succulent, citrusy scented leaves, but its flowers are tiny, forming a dense umbel head with a yellowish hue.
Rock samphire is sometimes known as sea fennel and in the past it was commonly eaten: either boiled as a vegetable, or preserved as an aromatic pickle. Golden samphire was sometimes pickled too, but was considered inferior to rock samphire.
Rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum) scrambling over the cliffs of Llanddwyn.
The tiny little flowers of rock samphire.
None of these samphires are related to each other: the name samphire just relates to the fact that they were considered to be herbs of St Peter (Saint Pierre) because they grew by the sea. St Pierre became corrupted to samphire.
Common centaury – Centaurium erthraea. You’ll find these mainly on the dunes and the edges of the forest.
Pink flowers are bursting open throughout the forest and the warren. Here are just a few:
Sea bindweed – Calystegia soldanella. Sea bindweed and field bindweed both have pink and white flowers, but on sea bindweed they are always mainly pink, with a white stripe. Sea bindweed also has fleshier leaves that are more rounded (similar to celandine leaves in a way). As the name says – it grows by the sea!
Field bindweed flower – Convolvulus arvensis – is found further inland.
Bog pimpernel – Anagalis tenella – keeps very low to the ground and has tiny rounded leaves. You’ll find it on Newborough Warren.
Restharrow (Ononis repens): the English name comes from the tangle or roots and stems that used to make ploughing difficult. This is an incredibly tough plant – you can find it just about anywhere. Its roots taste slightly of liquorice, hence it is sometimes called wild liquorice (but there are other wild liquorices too).
Dog rose – Rosa canina – grow throughout the forest.
And there may be no mountains, but the wild thyme still grows around the blooming heather…:)