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Simonswald Flora

Simonswald Flora

Dandelions Simonswald

     12,000 years ago, from the Mediterranean the first tree seeds arrived in Simonswald such as Birch, Pine, Hazelnut, Oak, Elm, Ash, Basswood, Maple, and later Beech and Fir-Tree seeds. Interestingly, if all of these seeds were planted under the same conditions, in the long run, Beech would dominate all others, be the only one that's standing, because of its dense leaves which would not allow other trees to get enough sunlight; today, Beech trees are the most common species of trees in Europe.

     Beech is native to Europe and North America. Leaves are entirely or sparsely toothed. The flowers are small single-sex, produced in spring shortly after the new leaves appear; its fruit is a small, sharply 3-angled nut 10-15 mm long, coming in pairs of soft-spined husks. The nuts are edible, but bitter with high tannin content.

     On meadows you will find plenty of Dandelions which were originally widely distributed throughout Europe. Dandelions are high in vitamin A and also are a source of vitamin C. The name dandelion comes from the Old French term, dent-de-lion, literally meaning "lion's tooth" on account of the sharply lobed leaves of the plant. In German it is called Löwenzahn (lion´s tooth). Dandelion blossoms are also used to make dandelion wine in Simonswald. The leaves are forming a rosette above a central taproot. A bright yellow flower head is held on a hollow stem rising above the leaves and extrudes milky latex when broken. Ground roasted dandelion root is sometimes used as a coffee substitute. The flower head consists entirely of florets and mature into a globe of filaments that are usually distributed by wind, carrying away the seeds like a parachuter. This globe is called the "dandelion clock", and blowing it apart is a popular springtime sport amongst children in Simonswald. While the dandelion is considered as unwanted weed by most gardeners and farmers, the plant has several culinary and medicinal uses. Dandelions are grown commercially as a leaf vegetable and can be eaten cooked or raw in various forms, such as in soup or salad. Some restaurants in Simonswald serve such soups and salads whereas young leaves and unopened buds are eaten raw in salads, while older leaves are cooked. Raw leaves have a slightly bitter taste. Dandelion salad is often accompanied with boiled eggs.

     Dandelions are apomictic or polyploidy, varieties drop the parachute from the achenes. There are species of apomictic and polyploid charcter that grow only in a single meadow. This is one reason for there being a large number of dandelion species in Simonswald. Dandelions are similar to catsear also known as False Dandelion. Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear flowering stem is solid and forked, whereas dandelions possess unforked hollow stems. Both plants show rosettes of leaves around a central taproot. The leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, those of catsear are lobe-shaped and hairy.

     Drinking dandelion wine before a meal is believed to stimulate digestive functions; the product is sold in some ultra-modern health food stores, often as a mixture of dandelion and burdock. However it should be mentioned that uncooked dandelions have a diuretic effect. Dandelion root is a registered drug in Canada, sold as a diuretic.

     Marsh marigold is a herbaceous plant of wet places in Simonswald with attractive yellow flowers blossoming in late spring; some people call the plant kingcup or May blobs. The common name of marsh "Marigold" refers to its use in Churches in medieval times at Easter time as a tribute to Virgin Mary, but be careful, parts of the plant can be irritant or slightly poisonous resulting in skin rashes.

     Gardeners regard the plant as weed, because every piece of its root will survive and spread. The plant comes back with every first summer heat, but in warm draining soils, the plant dies away.

     The English Bluebell is a spring-flower and flowers in April and May. The stems are 10-30 cm long and bend over at the top. The light blue flowers are pendulous, bell-shaped and a bit fragrant.

     Brooms are native to Europe, with the greatest diversity in the Mediterranean region. Many brooms are fire-climax species, adapted to regular stand-replacing fires which kill the above-ground parts of the plants, but create conditions for regrowth from the roots and also for germination of stored seeds in the soil.The most widely familiar is Common Broom a native of Simonswald, where it is found in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils. Like most brooms, it has apparently leafless stems that in spring and summer are covered in profuse golden-yellow flowers. In late summer, the pea-pod like seed capsules burst open, quite often with an audible popping sound, spreading seeds away from the parent plants. It makes a shrub about one to three meters tall, sometimes even upto four meters. It is also the hardiest broom, tolerating temperatures even below -25C.

     Brooms tolerate and often thrive best in poor growing areas in Simonswald. They need good drainage and do poorly on wet soil. Broom is the usual larval food plant of the Streak, a moth. The plant has widely ben used as landscape material and for wasteland reclamation plus in other parts of the world for sand-dune stabilising. Species of broom popular in horticulture are the Purple Broom (purple flowers), Atlas Broom, Dwarf Broom, Provence Broom, Spanish Broom. Many of the most popular brooms in gardens are hybrids of above.

     It has been introduced into other continents, and is regarded as a noxious species in many places such as New Zealand.

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