Jerusalem artichoke

There are Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) flowering down by the Lambrok tributary stream. They have been there for three or four years now and are spreading along the bank.

Jerusalem artichoke is a species of sunflower native to the eastern side of North America but we are happy to welcome it to the park. It is a late season flower, a compositae with a flower-head made of many florets, a rich source of nectar and pollen for our autumn invertebrates. Late flowering, it produces late seeds, held high on tall stems: food for the park’s finches.

The seed that produced this plant was probably brought to the park by a bird, maybe from a nearby feeding station, and its tuberous roots have spread easily through the deep, damp soil by the stream. In 2018 we pollarded the willows along the path and let in more light which, in the years since, has encouraged all kinds of plants to germinate at the edge of the wood.

The removal of this year’s ragwort, has left a worrying gap in the late-summer flora; butterflies and other nectar feeders that over-winter in their adult form need autumn sources of nectar to fuel their hibernation. These cheerful yellow flowers help to fill that gap.

Jerusalem artichoke by Ian Bushell

Pictures by Ian Bushell

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