Butterwort - Pinguicula vulgaris - Western Isles Blue / Purple Wildflowers

Butterwort - Wildflowers of the Hebrides
Purple wildflowers - Western Isles - Hebrides Flowers. This plant has pinkish violet two-lipped flowers. These are streaked with deep purple on long, leafless stems, which grow from the centre of the a leaf rosette of yellow green leaves.

The plant like most carnivorous plants rests in the winter and discards that years leaves and produces some rosette type leaves which actually don't catch anything for a few months whilst the plant rests in the winter.

Catches Insects
As spring arrives the leaves get larger ready to catch insects. The leaves seen up close have short hairs.The flowering stems grow to a height of 5 - 15cm and culminate in a single violet flower, which appears from May to July.

Dream Enhancer
The flower was sometimes called Valentine's Flower - as it was used in times gone by as " dream-enhancer". If you had someone in mind you would like to dream about, you could greatly improve your chances of seeing them in your dreams by putting a butterwort flower under your pillow.

Second Species in The Western Isles

In the Western Isles there is also a smaller more delicate species called pale butterwort which flowers later in the year.

Names for Butterwort
The butterwort gets its name as it is said to coagulate milk and catch insects.

It was also thought to have magical properties and the juices from the leaves were rubbed onto cows’ udders in order to protect the milk - which resulted in butter - from evil influences.

This lovely purple wildflower is also sometimes called, Earning-grass, Flycatcher, Rot-grass, Yorkshire Sanicle, Sheep-rot, Bog Violet or Marsh Violet.

Medicinal Uses
As medicine the butterwort wildflower has been used to cure fever and whooping-cough.

It was also believed to make your hair grow better

Butterwort Catches Insects

The Common Butterworts belongs to the 'fly-paper' group of carnivorous plants. As the habitat where it grows is so poor in nutrients it has developed its art in catching insects. Butterwort has sticky leaves which catch & digest insects. The leaves curl over insects and glands on the leaf secrete enzymes which digest the soft parts of their prey.

The leaves are green or yellowish in colour. The leaves are thick and covered in glands which give off a slight smell which attracts the prey. The leaves also curl upwards slightly to try to avoid it's prey being washed off by the rain. The insect lands on the leaf of the butterwort and becomes stuck on the glands. The leaf may curl over slightly in an attempt to increase the surface area contact with the insect.

The prey are small flying insects whose wings catch in the slimy substance on the leaves. The insects are probably dead by then, having died of suffocation when their respiratory spiracles became glued up.

Crawling insects can normally escape this sticky end however. begin the slow process of digesting them with the help of acid-containing glands. The leaves once having caught the insects are actually discarded - especially if they have been successful in catching a lot of insects.

Birds Foot Trefoil - Yellow wiildflowers - Hebrides
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