Sunday, 1 May 2011

yellow archangel

Yellow archangel (lamiastrum galeobdolon) has butter yellow flowers in spring. It is a plant of deciduous woodland and its presence is said to show that the woodland is very old. It s a member of the large family of labiates, all of which are loved by bees.


I first encountered it twenty years ago when surveying Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's Treswell Wood near Retford. Its archangel name, appearance and its special significance as an indicator species of ancient woodland gave it an identity that a yellow flowering dead nettle (which it is) would not normally have.

During Easter we visited Burton Agnes Hall in Yorkshire and I was amazed to see this drift of yellow archangel. It was there in abundance along a woodland walk that contained some old trees but had none of the feel of an ancient wood.

It was my good luck to find detached stems of the plant on the path so I snaffled them and put them in water to root when I got home. The little stems are now in a pot in our plastic greenhouse.

But, we have a dilemma.

When I Googled 'yellow archangel' I discovered that, away from traditional settings and when let loose in gardens, it becomes an aggressive thug of a plant, even dominating ground elder.

It gives this photo of yellow archangel, gently snuggling up to a tree a quite different interpretation. There are no other plants around it and it looks to have smothered the opposition.

Now, we have an area that is dominated by ground elder, which itself is up there at the top of the league as a garden hooligan.

Do I nurture the yellow archangel and plant it to dominate the ground elder - or will I end up with two species of weed I can't control?

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