Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
Gaelic names: Lus Riabhach Monaidh, Lus na mial, and Bainne ghabhar
Lousewort grows on moorland.
This is a perennial wildflower almost always with pink flowers, it is between 3 and 6 inches tall. The photograph above of white lousewort shows a very unusual find.
See photographs of lousewort in it's usual colour.
Lousewort flowers April to July .
We also get red rattle here, which in it's early stage is very similar in appearence.
Red rattle is usually found in a place where you need your wellies at any time of year, lousewort prefers drier land.
Lousewort has few of those tiny leaves (pinnae) which are on the leaf stalks - about 4 pairs, red rattle has about 9 pairs.
Lousewort begins to flower a month or more before any red rattle is flowering, red rattle flowers for a couple of months after the lousewort has finished.
Lousewort is small and sprawling, with branches coming from the base of the plant, whereas red rattle grows up to 18 inches tall, very upright, with branches coming from the stem all the way up giving a distinct angular appearence to the plant.
Lousewort is a native plant of the Western Isles.
Traditional Uses and More Names
In Shetland lousewort was known by children as "honey flooer" a nectar rich summertime treat.
Some people thought lousewort to have a bad effect on goat's milk, others that it would improve the yield, the Gaelic name "Bainne ghabhar" means goat's milk.
Lesser red rattle was another name for lousewort, because it is like smaller version of red rattle, both plants which if shaken when the seedpods are ripe, dry and full "rattle"
Lus na mial is the Gaelic version of lousewort, coming from the belief that sheep eating it would become infected with lice.
Photography © Frank Stark
Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
Frank's web site of his nature photography