During the year of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, a conservation charity, Plantlife International asked people of the UK to vote for a flower which they thought would best represent their county. Two years later, each of the old counties of Wales has made their choices and the results were announced in 2004.
It is estimated that pollution, intensive farming and habitat loss are responsible for the loss of one species of plant in each county of the UK every two years.
By highlighting the increasing threats to native plant species, it is hoped that people will be encouraged to connect with the flowers in their area and help protect the plants in future.
Whorled Caraway - carum verticillatum is the flower of Carmarthenshire
Growing on the diminshing are of damp meadows known as rough (rhos) pastures, this is a member of the plant family Umbelliferae. It is related to many other common species such as wayside plants Cow Parsley and Hogweed, both of which also display the umbrellas shaped flower clusters. There are numerous vegetables and herbs which belong to this family such as carrot, parsnip, clery, fennel and angelica. However, although Whorled Caraway is a relative of the culinary herb, Carum Carvi, Plantlife International states that the plant is not used in cookery or for medicinal purposes.
It grows up to 2ft in height and has small, pinkish white flowers during high summer and attracts a huge variety of pollinating insects. The leaves are simple pinnate (like a feather: as stem with leaves arranged along it, opposite each other and from many circles around the stalk, making a ‘whorl’ shape.
Bog Rosemary - Andromeda polofolia is the county flower of Ceredigion
This is a small, shrubby plant which favours bog land such as Cors Fochno near Borth and Cors Caron near Tregaron. It grows up to 1 foot high, often amongst sphagnum moss.
The leaves look very like the culinary herb, Rosemary, but are in fact poisonous. They are glossy on top and white beneath. The flowers are small pink urns, much like those of its relative, bell heather and the pollen is toxic. It was named by the famous botanist, Linnaeus, who, for some reason thought that the plant resembled the Greek goddess, Andromeda.
Thrift – Armeria Maritima is the flower of Pembrokeshire
One of the most beautiful of the cliff tops, a carpet of Sea Thrift can often be seen in April and May. Its dusky pink flowers contrast delightfully with the white Sea Campion and bright yellow Gorse which are in flower at the same time. The flower has many other names including Clustog Fair in Welsh – meaning Mary’s Pillow in reference to its cushion-like clumps of leaves.