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An uncommon plant in Dorset sometimes found in ancient woodland on limestone soils.



  • Herb-Paris: the true lovers knot

    Post date: Saturday, 6 June, 2015 - 00:00

    Herb-Paris (Paris quadrifolia) is an uncommon woodland plant in Dorset. It is found mainly on limestone soils and its presence is considered to be an indication that the woodland is long established, probably ancient woodland. Although there is a good deal of calcareous geology in Dorset there is not much woodland that occurs on it, it is mainly farmland with some remnant of open grassland.

    The plant itself has four leaves (quad = four, folia =leaved) in a whorl just below the black-centred star-like flower. The flower quickly gives way to a central black berry which, like the rest of the plant, is very poisonous. Not surprisingly then, it is not renowned as a medicinal herb! In very small does, however, it has been used to remedy all manner of ailments! 

    Its country name is the true lovers knot although I cannot establish quite why but looking at its flower it perhaps resembles a ring with a precious stone in the middle? The Paris here does not refer to the capital of France or Paris of Greek legend who eloped with Helen and started the Trojan wars! Sadly it is far less romantic. It is a corruption of the Latin pars meaning pairs that reflect how the leaves are arranged; in opposite pairs.


Common Name Herb-paris
Scientific Name Paris quadrifolia
Species Group Asparagus Family Asparagaceae
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Lily family - Liliaceae
Status Rare
Flower Colour Group Green
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
Preferred Environment
Look for The black central berry that appears on the green flower head
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Asparagus Family Asparagaceae