Grass-of-Parnassus

Latin name: Parnassia palustris

Family: Saxifragaceae

This plant has an interesting appearance that has evolved in order to attract pollinating insects. It has heart-shaped leaves and white chalice-shaped flowers with five petals. Each petal features distinctive 'veins' which are cleverly designed to guide the insects to its nectar.

The grass-of-Parnassus is found in base-rich flushes, marshes, damp grasslands and dune-slack habitats. It is not a common plant but can be found locally throughout Britain and Ireland. It is rarely found in south Wales or southern England.

Grass-of-Parnassus can be seen flowering in the Yorkshire Dales between July and late September. According to the Botanical Society for the British Isles (BSBI), it is present throughout the Yorkshire Dales National Park. However, it likes alkaline soil conditions and so is more frequently seen in the south west of the National Park on limestone such as in Malhamdale, Littondale and Upper Wharfedale.

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There is a freshness and at times a undefineable fragrance to the air at high altitude in the Pennines. Joan E. Duncan & R.W.Robson

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