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Common Mouse-ear

The interestingly named Common Mouse-ear trails through short grass or scrambles low across open ground to cover quite large areas with its downy leaves, resembling the ears of mice, and its tiny star-like flowers blooming throughout spring and summer.

There are several kinds of Mouse-ear, including Field Mouse-ear (C.Arvense) which has larger petals, or Little Mouse Ear (C.Semidecandrum), with smaller petals, but this one is the commonest. It grows in abundance in cultivated land or grassland all over Scotland. 

The stems are weak and sprawling, growing low then turning upright to support flowers. Stems are densely covered with downy hairs as are the leaves. Occasionally even the flowers can be stickily hairy, but then you may be looking at Sticky Mouse-ear (C.glomeratum), whose flowers are more clustered on shorter stalks. 

The oval greyish-green leaves have white hairs, and are paired on opposite sides of the stem. They grow between 10 to 25mm long. Lower leaves are more spear-shaped and pointed while the upper leaves are blunt and ovoid, but all are sessile.

Flowers are white with 5 petals above 5 hairy sepals, equal in length to the petals. The petals are notched to about halfway down. 10 yellow-anthered stamens and 5 stigmas crowd in the centre of the flower. The flowers appear on widely branched heads and are about 7-10mm across.

The fruit is a long dry capsule with 10 teeth at the opening, and housing many reddish-brown, kidney-shaped seeds.

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