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The hunt for Palmers Green’s Petty Whin

nhmLobeliaLogoHave you ever wondered about a plant or creature you have encountered in your garden or on your travels around the area?

The Natural History Museum has launched a database which allows you to search for native flora and fauna by postcode. Produced by Flora for Fauna for the museum, the postcode database contains around 90% of all plants in the UK and the animals, birds and insects that depend on them (which are also searchable by postcode).

Petty Whin (genesta angelic) creative commons
Petty Whin (genesta angelic) creative commons

The website throws up a few surprises for N13, including badgers, pigmy shrews, golden eagles and red squirrels,* though museum points out that some data is historic, and is based on 10k squares, so though you may now wish to dedicate your weekend to hunting for the Petty Whin in PG, it may no longer be growing in the area or relate to a wider area than just humble N13. There is also a reminder that it is illegal to remove plants from the wild (and information on suppliers if you really must have a Fool’s Parsley).

You can also limit your search to garden-worthy plants – the site encourages users to plant native species wherever possible – they are the backbone of our native ecology, and stand a better chance of surviving than some of the more exotic plants you might find in your garden centre.

If you are interested in plants and animals, there is so much more on the site, including a plant identification service whereby you can ask the experts to identify a plant you have discovered in your garden or on your travels. There is  also some lovely botanical art, and fascinating features on a range of topics, including country cures (foul tasting fun for all the family).

*I may have made one of these up.

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Are butterflies thriving in Palmers Green? – join the survey and let 15 minutes flutter by

Small tortoiseshell taken by James Hearton (creative commons license)
Small tortoiseshell taken by James Hearton (reproduced under a creative commons license)

Is it my imagination, or are there a few more butterflies this year – but less variety? This afternoon I had my first sighting of a peacock butterfly on a Buddleia in Old Park Road. They are the ones with the circles on the wings. Intrigued, it seemed like the perfect afternoon to take part in the Big Butterfly Count.

If you want to have a go, it’s very simple: choose a sunny day, like today, sit yourself outside for 15 minutes, and count the largest number of butterflies you see simultaneously of each type. You can be anywhere – in the park, in your garden, on holiday in the UK.

If you are out for a walk the rules are slightly different – just count what you see rather than the largest number of a each type present at the same time (its to avoid double counting if you are in one place –  but that shouldnt be a problem if you are on the move). You can even submit more than once if you like, and there is a downloadable app so that you can even do it on your phone.

Counting butterflies is a useful way of assessing the health of our environment, say organisers Butterfly Conservation. Butterflies react very quickly to changes in the environment, which means that they are a good indicator of biodiversity, and an early warning of other potential losses – a way of taking the pulse of nature. The count also provides valuable information on population trends and where action needs to be taken.

If you don’t know a butterfly from a bootstrap, there is a handy downloadable chart here. Log your results at And why not share them with your neighbours via this site by leaving a reply at the bottom of this article?

Here were my results:

Small white: 3

Gatekeeper: 2