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Plants of Wet, or Water Meadows

Lady's Smock flowers in late spring and is the food plant for the caterpillars of Orange-tip and Green-veined  White Butterflies. Spring flowering Marsh Marigolds prefer the wetter areas. Bugle flowers from May to July and prefers the dryer areas of wet meadows. Ragged Robin flowers in late spring to early summer.


Marsh Marigold


Ragged Robin

There may be a great deal of overlap, between the grass species found in hay and water meadows. The exact species mix will depend on such factors as how often the meadow is flooded and for how long, together with the degree of saturation of the soil at other times of the year. Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), Timothy (Phleum pratense), Sweet Vernal-grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) and Crested Dog's-tail (Cynosurus cristatus) may all be present, together with species such as Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), Meadow Fescue (Festuca pratensis) and Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia caespitosa).

In very wet areas, Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) may be dominant. This grass has little agricultural value as it is only palatable to sheep and cattle when young. It can become a problem as it will tend to dominate the habitat to the detriment of other more palatable species, also reducing species diversity overall.

Soft Rush is a typical plant of wet meadows. Sedges and rushes are characteristic of damp areas and are common on wet meadows. Soft Rush in particular is a common component of wet meadows (the tall dark green spikes of foliage in the picture on the left), together with Creeping Buttercup and Lady's-smock which both thrive in the damp conditions.

A variety of other herbs such as Marsh Marigolds, Ragged Robin, Marsh Bedstraw, Marsh Thistles, Bugle and Forget-me-nots intermingle with the grasses and rushes. Southern Marsh-orchids may also be found.



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