Flowers & Trees


 Mature broadleaf woodland will typically be made of four layers.  The top layer is the canopy, which includes all the leaf foliage of the larger trees.  This blocks out light in summer and restricts growth of plants underneath.  The layer below is the shrub layer or understorey.  Here we find smaller trees such as hazel and holly competing for light and space.  Below that is the field layer which generally contains grasses, flowers and creepers such as ivy, and at the very bottom is the ground layer where we can find mosses, liverworth, and fungi, decomposing leaves, rotten timber, and most likely a healthy insect population at work.  In a young wood such as Balrath, which has yet to reach a mature balance, it is not always possible to see these layers.  The best place is along the Nature Walk near “The Great Beech Tree”, and further around this route to the east side of the woods where the trees are a little older.

(images by permission of The Tree Council of Ireland)


Most of the flowers associated with woods are found flowering in springtime.  This is to make use of the natural light before the canopy grows and blocks it out.  Common plants are the lesser celandine, dog violet and primrose.  Towards the edges of the woods and along the ride lines can be found herb Robert, wood avens, scarlet pimpernel, buttercup, St. John’s Wort, honeysuckle, old man’s beard, ladys bedstraw, meadow sweet, goosegrass, bindweed, bog thistle, speedwells and willow-herbs such as he rosebay willow-herb which forms dense and spectacularly colourful patches of pinkish-purple in late summer