Nature on our doorstep: Woodlands in Springtime

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

While deciduous woodland occupies only a very small percentage of the land area in this County, small areas can still be found along the Rivers Liffey and the Dodder or in the narrow stream ravines in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. 

Most of the flowering plants that live in deciduous woodlands bloom early in the year. 

Yellow Primroses and blue Violets make a lovely colour combination compressor

Yellow Primroses and blue violets make a lovely colour combination

This is because it is only in early spring when the trees are still bare, that sunlight can reach the woodland floor. Plants therefore need to grow and flower quickly before the leaves grow on the trees, covering them in shade. 

Old hedgerows can also give these woodland flowers the right growing conditions and so we may occasionally see some of them along shady roadsides and ditches.

In spring, as soon as day-length and temperatures are right, these early plants push their way up through the moss and the decaying leaves of last winter.

Lesser Celandines with their yellow buttercup-like faces are often the first to show.

Drifts of Wood Anemone brighten the woodland floor in springtime compressor

Drifts of Wood Anemone brighten the woodland floor in springtime

Violets are usually next to bloom, along with Primroses and Wood Anemones. 

In another few weeks, Bluebells and Wild Garlic will turn the woodland floor a wonderful mix of blue and white.

By May, however, the shade under the leafy trees makes the woodland too dark for any further show of colour until next spring.

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