Print Posted By Lost in France on 22 Sep 2005 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

Walking in the forests of Brittany

forest fernsMy love and fascination of trees, forests and woodland began when I was a child, my school holidays were spent with my grandparents who lived in a delightful house set on the edge of a small forest. My grandfather built me a tree house high up in an old Oak in the middle of the woods and I spent many a happy hour in that tree house gazing out across the treetops at the many birds and insects who seemed quite unaware of my presence.

Eventually I grew up and the daily grind of work and living in a city took over. Every now and then memories from my childhood came back and I longed to sit in that tree house away from the stresses of modern day living once more.

Moving to Brittany in France re awoke those distant memories and I was amazed at just how much untouched forest & woodland there is here, there are many species of plants, insects and animals that have long since disappeared from England.

There is always something interesting to see what ever the time of year, though my favourite seasons have to be in the Spring for the flowers and Autumn for the colours.

beetleI came across the large beetle on the right in mid summer, I didn't actually notice the spider until I looked at the photos later when I got home. I wonder if he had climbed up for a chat.

There are many species of ferns growing in the forests of Brittany especially along the banks of the many streams and brooks, the picture above is of the Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina it was once used in herbal medicine as a diuretic and to ease the pain of labour.

In clearings where the sun can break through and along the edge of the the woods you will always find the Foxglove Digitalis purpurea it has many other names including goblins thimble and fairy gloves, in France it is known as the gant de notre dame meaning our lady's glove. All parts of the Foxglove are poisonous, the heart drug digitalis was originally derived from it.

dragonflyThe Dragonfly, or in French the libellule is not really a woodland insect as it loves the sun but it can be found on the edges or if there is a pond or slow moving stream running through the forest. This one is Libellula depressa or Broad Bodied Chaser, it grows up to 50 mm long and has a wingspan of 70 -80 mm.

Dragonflies have hardly changed since prehistoric times, they are amazing hunters often swooping down in a show of aerobatics to seize their unwitting prey which normally consists of smaller insects.

Visit the woods early in the morning or late evening and if you tread quietly and are lucky enough you may encounter the Wild Boar or sangolier as it is known in France, more about Wild Boar here. Also there are several species of deer in France including Red, Roe and Muntjac deer.

Wild Daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus
Grows in damp grassland, open woods and hedgerows, also gets its name from Greek mythology, the boy Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection after seeing it in a pool, eventually he pined away leaving behind him only a single yellow flower.


Hypericum androsaemum
A shrubby herb that grows up to 3 feet high, the leaves give off a resinous smell. The yellow flowers appear in June and give way to berries which turn from green into red and then black. Once used in herbal medicine, in Normandy it was given the name toute-saine meaning all heal.

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