Red deadnettle

I’m currently reading Richard Mabey’s excellent book ‘The Unofficial Countryside’ which explores the wildlife of urban and suburban spaces.

In one passage, he is searching for orchids on a golf course and muses over the hold this group of flowers has over botanists. Amongst other observations, he nicely describes a parallel I’ve often thought upon, that “look closely at a red dead nettle and you won’t find the blossoms less charming or intricate than those of a spotted orchid”.

A fascination with rarity is ubiquitous throughout natural history – the dullest of rare migrant warblers are eulogised, but they are not a patch on a blue tit which would be much more highly prized if we had just 100 breeding pairs. Sometimes the familiarity of a species can stop you from appreciating it’s often exquisite beauty.

This photo was taken just yesterday – a single flower on a low-growing deadnettle. I’ve walked past thousands of these plants this year without a second glance, but the rarity of any flower in December invites you to pause and appreciate the familiar.

Red deadnettle - Lamium purpureum


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