01 April 2021, The Tablet

Glimpses of Eden

Glimpses of Eden

If you want to encounter one of Britain and Ireland’s most unusual plants, then take a walk along your nearest stream, river, canal or lake; it’s in damp places such as these that butterbur is currently blooming. Growing in great masses, at first glance you might think that its stout, lilac-pink spikes are flesh-coloured toadstools, but it won’t take long before a bee arrives to forage, revealing that these are actually flowers. It is such a good source of early nectar and pollen that monastic beekeepers used to overwinter their skeps amongst drifts of butterbur, so that their bees would be well fed when they woke in spring.

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