THERE is a small wood near Alloa I enjoy visiting at this time of year because over the coming weeks the more open and sunnier confines explode into a riot of white and yellow from the dazzling flowers of wood anemones and lesser celandines.

They are super little plants engaged in a race against time to fully flower before the tree canopy bursts into full leaf and shades the woodland floor over summer and early autumn.

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.

The knobbly root apparently bears a strong resemblance to the appearance of piles and at one time there was the popular assumption that a plant would be effective for treating a medical condition to which it bore some resemblance.

The name anemone is derived from Greek which means 'windflower'. It is a most appropriate name, for when the wind blows, its white petals quiver and shake in quite delightful fashion.

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 will also be flowering soon and is often found growing on moss-covered tree stumps and fallen logs.

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

Lesser celandines, wood anemones and wood sorrel all have the rather endearing habit of closing their flowerheads when the weather is miserable.

r as William Wordsworth noted: There is a flower, the lesser Celandine, that shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain, And, the first moment the sun may shine, Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!