Meadowsweet and Dropwort

Dropwort Filipendula ulmaria

Habitat: damp meadows, by fresh water on stream and river sides, marshes, fens, damp woods Height: Tall, to 1 metre Flowering: June-September

A tall hairless perennial that can form extensive stands.

Meadowsweet on the railway embankment, Colwyn Bay

Meadowsweet on the railway embankment, Colwyn Bay

The flowers are creamy white and fragrant 4-8mm across and have numerous stamens; the tiny flowers are clustered together giving a foamy appearance.

Flowers are creamy white and fragrant

Flowers are creamy white and fragrant

Leaves are pinnate, usually silvery on undersides, the large toothed leaflets are interspersed with small ones.

Wet Meadowsweet leaves on plants growing on a streamside

Wet Meadowsweet leaves on plants growing on a streamside

Meadowsweet is one of the wildflowers I first discovered as a child, close to our home. It used to grow at the bottom of a sloping field close on marshy ground at the side of a stream close to the edge of Hazelwood Forest in Northamptonshire; the strong sweet hay-like scent always takes me back there.

Dropwort Filipendula vugaris

Habitat: Chalk and limestone turf  Height: Medium, to 50cm  Flowering: May to August

Dropwort is the downland Meadowsweet, differing from its larger moisture-loving in that it has more open clusters of fewer and larger (8-16mm) unscented flowers.

Dropwort has more open clusters of fewer, larger flowers than Meadowsweet

Dropwort has more open clusters of fewer, larger flowers than Meadowsweet

Often pink in the bud, flowers usually have 6 petals, tinged pink on the back.

Often pink in the bud, flowers usually have 6 petals, tinged pink on the back.

Leaves are darker green than those of Meadowsweet and are largely in a basal rosette and with many small, crowded, finely cut leaflets. Fruit in a group of downy nutlets.

A stand of Dropwort on the hillside of Bryn Euryn

July 2015-A stand of Dropwort on the hillside of Bryn Euryn

My first sight of a Dropwort plant was on the limestone hillside of Bryn Pydew, a North Wales Wildlife Trust reserve in Conwy, North Wales. Subsequently I found small amounts growing on the steep hillside of Bryn Euryn which have now spread considerably.

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