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 name: Cluas Luch Fhàireagach
Also known as clustered mouse-ear, sticky chickweed, mouse-ear and chickweed - (chickweed being a general heading which covers several different plants).
We generally get common mouse-ear and sticky mouse-ear here in the Western Isles. (There are a couple of records of incidents of other similar species, but they are single isolated records of the 1930's and 1940's). The sticky mouse-ear is not as abundant as the common mouse-ear. Both species flower April to September.
Sticky mouse-ear and common mouse-ear are very similar, both have small flowers which occur in clusters on their extended stems and they have five white petals which are each so deeply notched in the middle that they look more like 10 petals. The flowers are about ¼ inch long. The sepals (the leaves of the flower envelope) are hairy and look papery and see-through at the tips.
Both chickweeds are biennial or short-lived perennials and have taproots. Their flowering stems lie closely on the ground surface (prostrate), rooting at the points on the stems where the leaves are borne (nodes), and the plants form clumps up to 15 inches across.
The stems are 2 to 15 inches long, and are covered with stiff hairs. Stem leaves grow in pairs at the same level on opposite sides of the stem, are narrow and tapering at the end or egg-shaped, up to 1 inch long, with a single slender rib, and coarsely hairy on both surfaces. The leaves of the flowering stems are larger, up to 1½ inches long.
The main way of distinguishing between the two is that sticky mouse-ear has leaves and stems which are slightly sticky, it's petals are shorter or only slightly longer than the sepals (the leaves of the flower envelope) and the flowers form dense clusters.
The seeds of mouse-ear are believed to persist in the soil for up to 40 years and can survive ingestion by cattle, sheep and birds.
Sticky mouse-ear is a native plant of the Western Isles. It can be found on the machair, in grassland, by roadsides, waste spaces, rock ledges and occasionally on moorland (where there is some soil)
Photography © Suzanne Harris
Stornoway - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
9th May, 2007