23 May 2010

Purple Gromwell

Purple Gromwell (Lithospermum pupurocaeruleam) is a rare plant of scrub and woodland edges on calcareous soils. Although very rare in South Wales, it is one of a number of special plants found in the cliff woodlands near Oxwich in Gower. The name Lithospermum means ‘stone seed’, a reference to the very hard seeds produced by plants that belong to this genus. The common name, gromwell, is less easy to explain. Geoffrey Grigson suggested that it may be derived from the old French word gromil, (grey millet), again a reference to the seed, but probably referring more to Common Gromwell (Lithospermun officinale), which can also be found occasionally in Gower and a plant that was called Grey Millet in some parts of Britain.

Photo (21/5/2010) and text by Charles Hipkin

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