There’s a growing list of wildflowers classed as endangered in The British Isles, among them Apparently, Spreading Hedge-parsley, also known as the Tall Sock Destroyer. A friend of mine, Pam, spotted some growing along a sugarbeet field margin on the north edge of our village. I had to “twitch” it, it seemed so exotic.
It’s a delicate-looking plant of the carrot family, I was not particularly worried about ruining my socks even if that vernacular name sounds like its the worse of the DC/Marvel superheroes. Identification has now been confirmed by the county recorder here in VC29. So, here’s one of my snapshots of Torilis arvensis.
Let’s hope its presence in our village persists. It’s a good sign if we are seeing endangered species growing again, it could be their comeback. It would be interesting to know whether this is a positive effect on the environment of reduced traffic and human activity because of the Covid-19 lockdown. Who knows? And, after we ease lockdown will things revert to their problematic pre-pandemic condition?
The bristly seed-bearing fruits have slightly curved bristles which presumably readily stick to the wool of grazing sheep and the wool of hikers’ socks. Its decline is mostly blamed on agricultural herbicides but the lack of grazing sheep on intensively farmed arable land in modern agriculture may also be to blame for the seed not to be spread as widely as it once was.