With its whorl of four egg-shaped leaves, Herb-Paris is known as the 'herb of equality' because all of its parts are considered equal and harmonious. This symmetry appealed to medieval herbalists and Herb-Paris was used both in marriage rituals and to guard against witches. It is a perennial plant of damp woodlands, mainly on chalky soils, and its crown of understated, green flowers can be found blooming among Bluebells and Primroses in May and June.
How to identify
The four broad, oval leaves of Herb-Paris, set in a cross, are quite distinctive. Rising from the middle, an upright stem bears a flower: a star of four narrow, yellow-green petals and four green sepals, topped by a dark berry (ovary) and a crown of eight golden stamens.
Where to find it
Found throughout mainland UK.
When to find it
How can people help
The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for a range of spring flowers, from modest Herb-Paris to fragrant Ramsons, showy Bluebells to delicate Wood Anemones. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting and ride maintenance open up the woodland floor to the sun, helping many flowers and plants to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to raising awareness about woodland wildlife.