Red Bartsia

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Red Bartsia

Scientific name: Odontites verna
As its name suggests, Red Bartsia does have a red tinge to its stem, leaves and small flowers. Look for it on roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste ground in summer.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 40cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to September

About

Red Bartsia is a common plant of roadside verges, railway cuttings, waste ground and other disturbed ground. These areas often have low-fertility soils, so Red Bartsia is actually partly parasitic, gaining extra nutrients from the roots of its nearby host grasses. As its name suggests, the whole plant is tinged with red; its leafy flower spikes appear from June to September.

How to identify

Red Bartsia is a straggly, downy plant with narrow, toothed leaves that sit opposite each other along the stems. Pinky-purple flowers appear on the stems in clusters, nestling in the leaf axils (where they join the stem).

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

As well as being popular with carder bees and wasps, one particular solitary bee feeds solely on Red Bartsia.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.