Lineover Volunteers and Meadow saffron folklore
Our long term volunteers at Lineover Wood in Cheltenham were joined by corporate volunteers from St James Place last week. They were helping to coppice rides and clear glades in the ancient woodland to benefit the rare woodland plants that grow at Lineover Wood, including Lily of the valley, Soloman’s seal, and the rare Meadow saffron Colchicum autumnale pictured in bloom yesterday. Volunteers were also treated to red kites and buzzards soaring above them on the thermals in the warm September sunshine.
Meadow saffron is also known as Autumn crocus or naked ladies, as the leaves grow in spring and the bright purple-pink flowers only appear months later in autumn ‘naked’ without their leaves. Meadow saffron contains the poison colchicine (note the scientific name Colchicum) and reports of people dying after mistaking it for wild garlic occur to this day.
It has many local common names depending on where you are in the country. Local names include: fog-crocus in north Yorkshire, go-to-sleep-at-noon in Somerset, kite’s legs in Kent, meadow crocus in Yorkshire, naked boys in Herefordshire, naked maidens in Dorset, naked virgins in Cheshire, star-naked boys in Norfolk, and strip-Jack-naked in Devon – you get the idea. Just don’t look up the German name….
Joe Middleton Site manager