Flora and Fruits
Red campion flowers can also be found throughout the forest, growing alongside pathways and brightening up the undergrowth, providing a warming splash of pink alongside the bright yellow flowers of St John’s wort plants. Did you know that St John’s wort was used as an anti-depressant in Robin Hood’s times, and is still used in holistic therapies? Towering fuchsia spikes of foxgloves rise above the forest floor and are a favourite for attracting bumble bees. Look inside the pink bell-shaped flowers for the ‘fox print’ markings.
Heath bedstraw is a low, sprawling plant and its tiny white flowers give the impression of a white froth on the ground in open grassy areas. Visit the heathland at Budby in late August to see a lilac carpet of heather cover the ground, often covered in busy bees collecting a late burst of nectar.
The common-spotted orchid can also be found near the Major Oak – many are marked with stakes making it easy to spot these pretty pink or white flowers, tinged with purple.
You’ll find bilberry easily, growing in large patches to the west of the Major Oak. It’s small, dark purple/black berries appear in summer, and were once picked and sold in Nottingham market when this plant was much more common in the area. The fruits of wild raspberry can be found in summer and those of bramble (blackberries) later.
Two species of oak trees grow at Sherwood Forest – the pendunculated and sessile. Looking at their acorns can help identify them: acorns from pendunculated oaks have a long stalked acorn cup while those from sessile join straight to the twigs and don’t have a stalk. It sounds easy but the two species hybridise so you can find trees with a bit of both!
Look out for events to help brush up on your botany skills.