WOOD AVENS

HERB-BENNET

Geum urbanum

Rose Family [Rosaceae]  

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status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8yellow
 
inner
inner8green
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
stem
stem8round
 
smell
smell8cloves
cloves

17th June 2013, ex gravel quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Mcr. Photo: © RWD
Wood Avens, as its name implies, likes to grow along the edge of a wood which hardly sees light of Sun.


17th June 2013, ex gravel quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Mcr. Photo: © RWD


17th June 2013, ex gravel quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Mcr. Photo: © RWD
These specimens are particularly tall, trying to reach for the sky. The leaves are in 3's at intervals up the stem and are pear-shaped with irregular teeth.


21st May 2019, Leeds & L/pool canal, Burnley. Photo: © RWD
Whereas these specimens are out in full sun half the day. A characteristic of Wood Avens is that about 4/5ths the way up the stem two flowering branches peel off at about 40° to the stem and slightly droop over. There is just a single flower at the end of each branch, but very few branches, so very few flowers per plant.


Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington. Photo: © RWD
A very open, but straggly plant about 18 inches tall. Tough stems and sturdy roots, together with a profusion of hooked seeds make this plant a persistent garden weed if it gets a look in. Spreads through dappled woods, the seeds probably spread on animal fur. In the case of woods, by dogs; in the case of your Authors garden, by cats! There are many seeds per flower and they are very fertile! If you miss pulling up one plant, there will be 20 more next year!


15th July 2005, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves, typical of the Rose Family, are trefoil, with stem leaves having a large central lobe and two smaller side-lobes set at right-angles and nearer the stem.


21st May 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Bollington. Photo: © RWD
Stems bifurcate at widely spaced intervals, the bifurcation generally having a trefoil leaf. A single flower tops each branch, to become the burrs.


19th May 2011, Blackleach NNR, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
At first there are a mass of short pale-green styles in the centre. There are also numerous filaments with a small yellow anther atop surrounding the central mass of pale-green styles.


12th June 2008, Monks Dale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers deep yellow with five well-separated petals. Looks similar to those of Spring Cinquefoil and other Cinquefoils, members of the same Rose family.


21st May 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Bollington. Photo: © RWD
The five un-notched petals vary slightly in shape between specimens. Five dark-green sepals behind are isosceles triangular and shorter than the petals.


Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Adlington. Photo: © RWD
The five sepals occupy the interstices below and between the petals. A multitude of stamens bearing cream coloured pollen surround a plethora of shorter styles in the centre.


19th May 2011, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
The sepals soon turn downwards. Plant slightly hairy.


19th May 2011, Blackleach NNR, Walkden, Gtr Mcr. Photo: © RWD
The stem inflates as it nears the sepals. Both stem and sepals have longish white hairs. The stamens appear to inhabit a ring of perhaps 15(?) bulging wells below the 5 sepals - here reddish but in above photo green. These bulging wells together comprise the receptacle which holds all the flower parts. Because the hairs on the receptacle are sparse (rather than dense) this specimen is definitely not that of the otherwise very similar Large-Leaved Avens.


19th May 2011, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Sepals isosceles triangular and felty hairy.


3rd July 2015, ex Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The styles grow bigger forming a 'tentacled' ball in the middle.


19th May 2011, Blackleach NNR, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Close-up of opened conical to bell-shaped anthers with deep yellow pollen.


6th June 2011, Bolsterstone, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
At first, still surrounded by an outer ring of pale-green filaments with now deep-red anthers (the yellow pollen probably having departed), the ovary below each style begins to elongate way beyond the height of the anthers.


6th June 2011, Bolsterstone, Sheffield. Photo: © RWD
A close-up of the specimen above this one. The shorter red style (upper) joins onto the longer and elongating lower red ovary. [There are still some green filaments with red anthers atop in the foreground]]


22nd June 2009, Trowbridge Limestone Quarry, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The red styles are short in comparison to the elongating red ovaries. Where the two join is an S-shaped double-kink where the shorter styles eventually break off leaving the longer red ovaries with a U-shaped hook at the tip - see photo below.


3rd July 2015, ex Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The lower much fatter seed containing part of the ovary is still growing, but is a flattish oval. Here the shorter red styles are still attached to the much thinner and red upper part of the ovary via an S-shaped double-kink. A spider has been spinning a web between the styles.


Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Addlington. Photo: © RWD
The U-shaped hooked burrs left at the end of the long ovary, ready to cling onto passing furry animals (or human clothing) and deposit the seed they carry into new territory. The (flattish) oval, green ovaries have also grown and will contain ripening seeds. The ripe seed heads form red-spiked spheres, but unlike those of Water Avens, do not have feathers on the spikes.


3rd July 2015, ex Gravel Quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The S-shaped double-kink linking style to the much thinner and red part of the ovary is best seen in those at the bottom of the photo. The green (at the moment) ovaries are hairy.


6th June 2011, ex-railway line, Langsett, Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
The end is kinked into a tight S-bend rather than double-jointed. The seed at the other end is much wider and still green (hardly visible in this photo).


27th May 2017, Sedbergh, Yorks. Photo: © RWD
Deep within the tangled mass of the red and thin parts of the ovary are some with a bottle-brush of short white hairs with glandular bobbles at their ends.


27th May 2017, Sedbergh, Yorks. Photo: © RWD
On your Authors fingertip: Some plucked unripe green seed cases (the ovary) still attached to the much thinner red part of the ovary, which are in turn still attached to the styles at the end via a tight S-shaped kink (which later part company at the S-shaped kink). The style part has upwardly directed hairs. The red style part has bottle-brush glandular hairs. The fatter green part of the ovary has much longer upwardly-directed white hairs.

It can be seen in the right-most green seed pods/ovary that the red extension might not actually be a part of the ovary as is stated in many places in the captions above, but instead clasps the green ovary on at least two sides by long red fingers. So, if it is not a part of the ovary, your Author has no idea what to call it!



21st May 2007, Macclesfield Canal, Bollington. Photo: © RWD
Trefoil leaves vary in shape, some deeply lobed, others not.


Easily confused with : Hybrid Geum

Much more easily confused with : Large-Leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) which is taller than Wood Avens (1m high as opposed to 70cm) but the only real identifying feature is whether there are hairs on the receptacle or not - the receptacle being the bulge right underneath the flower where it joins the flower stalk. On Large-leaved Avens the receptacle has few short hairs, whereas on Wood Avens the receptacle has a dense covering of hairs which are longer than 1mm. Hybridizes with :

  • Water Avens (Geum rivale) to produce Hybrid Geum. Fully fertile hybrid swarms proliferate where the parents meet, with the hybrids exhibiting a full spectrum of intermediate forms between the two parents covering every aspect.
  • Large-Leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) to produce Geum × convallis which is completely sterile, and is intermediate in characteristics between the two (noticeable in the hairs - or lack of - around the receptacle - the receptacle being the bulge right underneath the flower where it joins the flower stalk) and is found in Cheshire, South Lancs, in SouthWest Yorkshire and MidWest Yorkshire. Large-Leaved Avens have greater than 150 achenes (seed capsules with attendant red kinked extensions) whereas Wood Avens have less than 150 achenes.

Distinguishing Feature :

From afar the way the leaves are shaped and are widely spaced on one side up the stem resembles that of Fringe Cups

Wood Avens (Herb-Bennet) should not be semantically confused with: Herb-Robert nor with the much rarer Herb-Paris, [plants with similar names belonging to differing Families].

The plant, like the Burdocks (which are members of the Daisy & Dandelion Family), is spread by hooked burrs which are attached to the fur of animals brushing passed. The burrs have a seed attached, which is then released elsewhere to grown another patch of the plant. Wood Avens has very tough stems and deepish roots. If it gets into gardens it can be very hard to eradicated, for the many seeds that it sheds will take root next year. It grows quickly. The burrs are held far apart ready to catch on anything passing, such as walkers clothing.

The roots have a clove-like odour because they contain the compound Eugenol and are used to flavour the green-coloured liqueur Benedictine and some ales. And, of course, Eugenol is used as a local mouth-numbing agent (or local anaesthetic) in dentistry. Eugenol is also to be found in cloves.

Hybridizes with :

  • Large-Leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) to produce Geum × convalis which is intermediate in the hairiness of the receptacle and has been found in Cheshire, South Lancs and South-West and Mid-West Yorkshire since the year 2012.


  Geum urbanum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Rosaceae  

Distribution
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Geum
(Avens)

WOOD AVENS

HERB-BENNET

Geum urbanum

Rose Family [Rosaceae]  

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