Field Work

Exploring the World of Cotton Grass: A Botanical Illustrator’s Delight

Welcome back, fellow plant enthusiasts! Today, I want to share with you my excitement for cotton grass, a remarkable plant that has become my second choice for my final-year project, ‘5 Plants of Bennachie’. Cotton grass holds a special place in my heart, as it graces the beautiful landscapes of Bennachie and the surrounding hills, creating an iconic sight that never fails to captivate me.

Before we delve into the enchanting world of cotton grass, let’s take a moment to appreciate the backdrop against which it thrives. While it is not taken from Bennachie, it captures the breathtaking beauty of the landscape where cotton grass flourishes. ‘The Buck of Cabrach’ offers a great walking experience for adventurers seeking to immerse themselves in wild heathland. However, I would highly recommend exploring it during the drier summer months, as the boggy conditions at the hill’s summit make it more challenging to traverse during wetter seasons. Nevertheless, it is precisely these damp conditions that make the Buck of Cabrach and Bennachie ideal habitats for cotton grass and similar plant species.

Tracking down cotton grass before it flowers can be quite a task, as its leaves bear a strong resemblance to grass. Initially, the flowers appear with dark grey, papery scales called glumes. Around April, the pale lemon-yellow pollen-laden flowers stand out against the heathland surroundings. As the flowers fade, the seeds mature and develop fluffy, cotton-like plumes, ready to embark on their dispersal journey with the help of the wind, aiding in seed dispersal across the landscape.

This perennial plant, scientifically known as Eriophorum, belongs to the Cyperaceae family. It thrives in moist, acidic habitats such as bogs, marshes, and wetlands. Cotton grass forms dense tufts that create microhabitats for a variety of organisms, contributing to the overall biodiversity of these wetland ecosystems.

Interesting Facts:

  1. Despite its name, cotton grass is not a true grass but a member of the sedge family.
  2. The fluffy cotton-like structures that give cotton grass its name are not actually cotton fibers but modified hairs called pappus.
  3. Cotton grass is a hardy plant that can withstand harsh climates, making it a true survivor of challenging environments.
  4. Traditionally, the stems of cotton grass were used in basket weaving and the heads as an alternative to feathers in pillows.

Now I just need to figure out how to paint those fluffy cotton plumes!

Remember to keep an eye out for future updates on my final year project, as I dive deeper into the intricate details of all my plants and share more fascinating insights. Until then, keep exploring, discovering, and cultivating your love for the hills the hills and the plants that adorn them.

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