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A small plant that forms carpets on the woodland floor producing four tiny flowers on each stem, each flower facing a different direction



Moschatel: the town hall clock

Post date: Wednesday, 25 March, 2015 - 00:00

Spring in deciduous woodlands, before the leaf canopy forms and darkens the woodland floor, is a time when the most flowering plants can be found in this habitat. Many only grow in such woodland and are often indicators that the wood itself has been continuously present on that site for many hundreds of years. One such flower is moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina), the only member of the adoxaceae family in the whole world.

Moschatel forms carpets of green, five lobed leaves. From amongst these leaves the flower stems rise up and at the top of each stem five small greenish yellow flowers form; one points upwards and the other four face outwards at right angles to each other like the four faces of a clock tower which is the origin of its familiar name, the town hall clock. The flowers produce a musk-like scent in the evening, "musk-at-el".

Not uncommon in well established broadleaved woodland but easily overlooked unless you know what you are looking for so keep an eye for the small, town hall clock flowers.


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

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Moschatel
Alternative Name(s) Town Hall Clock
Scientific Name Adoxa moschatellina
Family Moschatel family - Adoxaceae
Status Locally frequent
Interest Level
Species Family Complex Flowers
Flower Colour Group Green
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
Preferred Environment
Look for Small woodland floor plant that produces flowers facing four ways like a town hall clock
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
W1: Broad-leaf Woodland Indicator