You can see many different flowers and plants on Hambrook Marshes, reflecting the variety of ecosystems on the site. As a wetland, Hambrook Marshes is prone to flooding, which is a big influence on the types of flowers and plants that will grow here. We also aim to offer a wide range of wild flowers for pollinating insects, with vegetation and trees providing shelter and food to wildlife throughout the year.
There is also a willow patch with many different types of willow, each with its own properties and uses. Willows with particularly pliable shoots, or withies, are known as osiers. The Hambrook willows are managed by a contractor who cuts the withies regularly and uses them mainly to make hurdles and fencing. To see willow plants close up, visit the willow maze which was made with help from local primary school children.
Derivation of this plant's name may not be obvious. The 'birdsfoot' refers to the radiating seed pods that form after flowering; the 'trefoil' refers to the three leaflets in the flower. The plant is also known as Eggs and Bacon after its red and orange coloured flowers when mature!
Also known as 'Stinking Roger' from its rotten smell!
Brambles can be either the flower of the blackberry bush or 'any hybrid of similar appearance, with thorny stems'.
Pictured here growing on the bank of the Great Stour river.
Correctly named reedmace, rushes used to be grown in the marshes to provide thatching material for roofs.
Pictured is a burdock head gone to seed. The plant produces large tenacious burrs earlier in the year.
Both meadow and creeping buttercups grow prolifically across Hambrook during May and June.
Or maybe stitchwort.
As the name implies, this plant was thought to be useful for repelling fleas!
A few isolated poppies can be found on Hambrook Marshes: these appeared on the rail embankment.
Ragwort can be poisonous to cattle, and more so to horses. (The likelihood of animals becoming seriously sick is a matter of dispute.)
As the shape of the flowers suggests this is a member of the pea family (legumes). The twining stems have curly tendrils on the ends.
Common water plantain
An aquatic plant with tiny (10mm) white or pale lilac flowers. Look for it on the banks of Hambrook's water channels.
Creeping thistle produces lilac or purple flowers followed by voluminous white and hairy seed heads - a favourite of goldfinches and other birds.
Cuckooflower supposedly blooms when the first cuckoos are heard in April or May; our clumps on Hambrook can beat this by many weeks. The plant is also widely known as lady's smock, and its small four-petalled flowers are white, pale pink or mauve.
The daisy's flowers supposedly open at sunrise and close at sunset - hence 'day's eye' or daisy.
The origin of this plant's name is the French 'dent de lion' ie lion's tooth - referring to the jagged edge of the leaf. An essential source of food in spiring for bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.
Field bindweed flowers are small (15 to 30mm across), normally with white and pink stripes. You can find them close to the Whitehall Road entrance to Hambrook.
The round flowerhead of field scabious explains its alternative names of 'lady's pincushion' and 'blue bonnets'.
Goatsbeard seed heads could be mistaken for dandelions. But goatsbeard is much larger, with a complex structure of inverted 'umbrellas'. It's also known as 'Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon', reflecting the flower's habit of opening only in the morning sunshine.
The 'willow' in this plant's name refers to its narrow tapering leaves, similar in appearance to those of willow trees.
Hedge bindweed's attractive late summer flowers are lovely to see in the wild, but a highly unwelcome sight in the domestic garden.
So who was the 'Robert' who gave his name to herb robert? Front-runner is Robert of Molesme (1028-1111), a French abbot who supposedly promoted the plant's medical uses. These have included mosquito repellent, treatment for toothache and nosebleeds, and helping to heal wounds. A member of the geranium family, it was also used to produce dye.
An attractive but non-native invasive plant, with flowers ranging from pink-purple to white. Reaching up 3 metres high, it's thought to now be the tallest annual plant in Britain. It quickly takes over river banks thanks to its exploding seed pods that shoot seeds over several metres.
The hogweed that grows on Hambrook is about a metre (3ft) tall, and it’s not clear whether it’s at all dangerous to humans. Giant hogweed on the other hand can grow to over twice that height and is very toxic, causing nasty burns, rashes and blisters. It’s best to steer clear of either type to be on the safe side.
A popular but less pretty common name for lesser celandine was 'pilewort' - reflecting its earlier use in treating piles (haemorrhoids).
Mallow appears in abundance during June each year.
Why 'cranesbill'? When seeding, it produces pointed pods that were thought to resemble the beak of the crane (a large heron-like bird).
Due to its pleasant aroma, Meadowsweet has been used amongst other things as a floor covering, to add flavour to wine, beer and jam, and in potpourris.
The name 'loosestrife' apparently originates from King Lusimakhos of Sicily, who first discovered the plant's medicinal value in calming livestock. This was translated in error to a Greek phrase meaning 'ending of strife'. It can be seen flowering around Hambrook in July.
Ragged robin gets its name from its much-divided pink flowers. It is found particularly in damp or wet areas.
Red clover is amongst the oldest crops in the world, grown in prehistoric times as forage. In folk medicine it's been used to treat a wide range of conditions, from athlete’s foot to constipation! The image shows both the flower and the seed pod.
Also known as the purple deadnettle and red henbit, this is amongst the earliest blooms on Hambrook. As with the white deadnettle, the plant leaves don't sting.
Restharrow's name comes from having roots that are so tough that a plough would get stuck in them.
As its name implies, self-heal has a long history of medicinal use. Traditionally, the leaves were used on wounds to promote healing.
For centuries the seed heads of teasels were used for cleaning and raising the nap on fabrics, particularly wool. Now they are appreciated mainly by flower arrangers.
Tussock-sedge grows in wet areas. Dead leaves from previous years create a mound, which keeps new growth out of the water. On Hambrook it can be found in the areas that weren't excavated for quarrying in the 1980s.
An annual grass also known as 'false barley'. It's commonly found in urban environments, waste ground or at the edges of cultivated fields. The bristly flower spikes, technically known as 'awns', will stick to clothing or pets! On Hambrook odd clumps grow by the railway bridge.
Look for white flowers with five petals, each deeply notched and almost divided into two. At night the blooms produce a heady scent which is attractive to moths.
White deadnettle flowers have a distinctive 'ruff' around the stem. The leaves do not sting - hence the name 'deadnettle'.
Woody nightshade berries are poisonous to humans and livestock - their bright red colour makes them particularly attractive to children. Not surprisingly, its many alternative names include Poisonberry and Bittersweet.
Yarrow is easy to spot: feathery leaves, strong stems, and broad white heads made up of many individual flowers. The plant is aromatic, and has a long history of medical applications including staunching bleeding and treating colds, fever, and problems of circulation.