IT HAD been a while since I had found toadflax, so when a cluster of their vibrant yellow flowers shone out at me from a track near Clackmannan, I spent some time hunkered down to examine their exquisite beauty.

The unusual name is derived from the arrangement of long narrow leaves being similar to those of flax, and the plant was regarded as so useless as to be fit only for toads.

Other folk names for the plant include 'lion's mouth, 'weasel snout' and 'pig's chops' in reference to the way in which the mouth of the flower opens if its sides are squeezed.

This was a delightful walk, starting just on the edge of the town on the track that leads to Tullygarth, and then following the waymarked signs that take you to the Clackmannan to Dunfermline cycle path.

Part of the route goes adjacent to the banks of the Black Devon, which is Clackmannanshire's forgotten river, with so much potential for revival if given half the chance to do so.

Other wildflowers abounded on the trackside included knapweed, ox-eye daisy, and St John's Wort.

Rosebay willowherb with its blousy pink flowers was also prolific. Rosebay willowherb is such a serene name for a plant, although it is sometimes more prosaically known as fireweed because of its prolificacy in colonising areas of forest destroyed by fire.

I stop awhile to immerse myself in this sea of pinkness, watching bumblebees and hoverflies making good the richness of the nectar.

Fireweed – yes, a most appropriate name, for these wind-whispered flowers could also be likened to flickering flames.

Rosebay willowherb was also once known as 'bomb-weed' because of the speed it occupied city areas laid waste by Nazi air raids.

It is hard to imagine that up until the 1800s rosebay willowherb was scarce in the countryside, but it has since undergone a remarkable spread and is now ubiquitous.

It is thought that the development of railway lines and roads, along with their associated embankments, provided the perfect conduit for willowherb to colonise new areas, aided by those white-fluffed parachute-like seeds that carry far in the wind.

Rosebay willowherb is the supreme opportunist, a pioneer species, with its tall growth enabling it to shade-out plant competitors, thus quickly reinforcing newly occupied areas.