Stitchwort - star of the hedgerow


Stitchwort - star of the hedgerow

The beautiful wild flower stitchwort seems to be a little known plant, despite being widespread around Britain and very beautiful. Perhaps that's because its charming white flowers appear at the same time as bluebells in April and May. Its favoured habitat is at the base of hedgerows and the edges of woodland.

The Latin name for Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea, is perhaps more romantic than its English name and refers to the starlike colour and shape of its flowers. Stellaria means ‘star like’ and holostea means 'entire bone', somehow a reference to the brittle stem. It has many other common names, including 'wedding cakes', 'Star-of-Bethlehem', 'daddy's-shirt-buttons' and 'Snapdragon' - the latter because its stems are brittle and easily break, though the snapdragon name can be applied to other plants.

The flowers are usually 2–3cm in diameter and the rest of the plant is grass-like, and reaches up to 50cm in height. It is usually found along hedgerows and country lanes, growing abundantly where it finds the conditions to its liking.

The name stitchwort is thought to be from the belief in the medieval period that it cured stitches caused by exercise. It was once believed that picking the flowers would bring on a thunder storm.

Further reading

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