The curious mauve flowers of the purple toothwort are piercing the soil throughout the Woodland and streamside.
The purple toothwort (Lathraea clandestina) is a parasitic, rhizomatous perennial from western Europe, though it has naturalised in areas of the British Isles. One of seven species, the genus belongs to the broomrape family, Orobanchaceae. Containing no chlorophyll, the yellow roots have a sucker, or haustoria, at their tips, which enables them to attach themselves to the roots of a range of host plants and sap energy from them. Favoured hosts include Salix (willow), Populus (poplar) and Alnus (alder), though it will flourish on a range of woody species given moist conditions. The generic name Lathraea derives from the Greek lathraios, or hidden, in reference to the plants underground parasitic virtues.