Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Dipsacales - Family: Adoxaceae
This lovely little wildflower is easily overlooked, because it is so small.
The flowers are typically just 5mm across and greenish even when in fiull bloom. .Each stem bears five flowers, one on the top and one on each of the four side faces of a cube. Flower have five petals and five stamens, although because each of the stamens are split into two parts it looks at first glance as though there are ten stamens.
The leaves of Townhall Clock are quite similar to those of many other plants that are more common, which makes confident identification of Adoxa moschatellina when not in flower much more difficult.
Found throughout Britain and Ireland, although uncommon and easily overlooked, Adoxa mochatellina has a world-wide range, including Europe, Asia and North America, but the coverage leaves many gaps.
Damp, shady sites such as woodland edges, in grassy areas beside paths through mixed or deciduous woods, at the edges of tree-lined streams and ditches, and occasionally in hedgerows are the most likely places to find this hard-to-spot little wildflower.
In Britain and Ireland Townhall Clock produces its flowers in April and May.
Adoxa, the genus name, comes from Greek and means inglorious - from a- without, and -doxa praise, a reference to the inconspicuous nature and humble growth form of this plant. The specific epithet moschatellina comes from the Italian moscato, meaning musk, and refers to the musky smell of this plant. Moschatel is another common name given to this wildflower but given its cube-like flower head Townhall Clock is surely so much more descriptive.
There is a spectacular display of Townhall Clock beside the new footpaths created at the National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of its Regency Restoration project, opened to the public in 2021.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Rob Petley-Jones.
We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would find our books Wonderful Wildflowers of Wales, vols 1 to 4, by Sue Parker and Pat O'Reilly very useful too. Buy copies here...