The Little Orme is close in distance to Bryn Euryn, but quite different in character, so a walk around there can add a host of different flora species within the space of half-an-hour or so; it also has its specialty plants and I set off to find at least one of them on a late afternoon last week.
Right now while the rocks of the Bryn are splashed gold with dainty rockroses, the Little Orme has its yellow-flowered cabbages. This year, rather a lot of them and not just any old cabbage, but the rather rare Wild Cabbage Brassica oleracea.
The Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea), also sometimes known as Sea Cabbage, is regarded as scarce by botanists as it is found in only 100 x10km squares in the UK. Where it does occur, the plant is found on maritime cliffs, usually of limestone or chalk, typically growing on or near to cliff tops or cliff bases, often on ledges containing other mixed herb communities. The Little Orme and Great Orme in North Wales and the Gower Peninsular in South Wales are strongholds of the plant.
Brassica oleracea is a biennial, sometimes perennial, relatively short-lived (20 years), evergreen plant that can withstand frost. Plants can grow to a height of 1.2m (4ft), but that can vary, as can the size and to an extent, the shape of the leaves. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by a range of insects, including bees and hoverflies; the plant is self-fertile.
It is probable that the Wild Cabbage, which occurs widely around the Mediterranean, is not a true native to Britain and that it was yet another introduction made by the Romans and is the forebear to our more robust modern cultivated cabbages.
I have seen sites advocating foraging wild cabbage as an edible wild plant, which of course it is, but while the plant itself does not have any specific legal protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), most of the locations where it’s found along the North Wales Coast are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interests. Damaging, uprooting or removing the plant either deliberately or recklessly could be regarded as a criminal act, so perhaps not a good idea to chance it.
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Emily Heath said:
The wild cabbage is very pretty.
Wild or not, I love the combination of green and purple on the leaves – one of my favourite palettes. They’re quite attractive if you forget the image of school lunches.
Not your ordinary dainty wildflower, but placed in context and scaled down against the red of the cliff, or even the blue (?) sky or sea, they do look rather striking. At least they’re out in the open and you don’t get that all-pervading smell of the school lunches! Funny thing scent-memory isn’t it – you know you remember the smell but can’t quite bring it to mind, or nose.