TAKE a woodland walk anywhere in Clackmannanshire over the next few weeks and there is every chance of stumbling upon a riot of white and yellow from the dazzling flowers of wood anemones and lesser celandines.

These wonderful little plants are engaged in a race against time to take full advantage of the sunlight filtering through the open tree canopy, which will soon turn into full leaf and deliver perpetual shade over the summer.

The lesser celandine is a sparkling buttercup-coloured flower with distinctive heart-shaped leaves.

In the past, the plant was also known as ‘pilewort’ because of its reputed properties as an effective remedy for haemorrhoids.

Apparently, the knobbly root bears a strong resemblance to the appearance of piles and at one time there was the popular notion that a plant would be effective for treating a medical condition if it bore some resemblance to the ailment.

The wood anemone doesn’t really feature in folk medicine at all but is sometimes known as the ‘windflower’ because their star-shaped white flowers shimmer and dance in the wind.

It is a characteristic plant of ancient woodland and its presence in hedgerows and fields is a likely indicator of the former presence of long-standing forest.

The same can be said of the wood sorrel, which is also flowering about now and is often found growing on moss-covered tree stumps and fallen logs.

It has a subtle beauty that is easy to miss. It really is worth examining this flower closely, for what from a distance appear as white petals are in fact gently inscribed with lilac.

The primrose is perhaps the ultimate beauty of them all and also one of the first to flower.

The crinkled oval green leaves have been visible for the last month or so, but almost miraculously the pastel yellow flowers suddenly appear.

The brilliance of the yellow is so compelling that it attracts the eye even from a distance and there is no more stunning sight than a bank of primroses bathed in the sunlight of a dew-filled spring morning.

The name is derived from prima rosa –first rose – and a direct reference to its early flowering.