Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yellow Freesias



Freesia [Iridaceae family]

Freesia [Iridaceae family]

No, these aren't grown in the UK.

I saw many references to yellow freesias while reading John le Carré's book The Constant Gardener and wondered what they looked like. They're found in Africa (the setting for le Carré's book) and belong to the Iridaceae family (along with iris, crocus, and gladiolus). I wish they did grow here.

In le Carré's novel, these are the favorite flowers of the dead heroine; they're thrown onto her casket when she's buried; their name makes up the password to important files left on her computer. Clues to her murder.

It's not a happy story. Not a happy ending. But the flowers are beautiful and innocent.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knapweed (aka Hardheads)



Knapweed (also known as Hardheads)

Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

I first noticed this wildflower back in June or July up on Copse Hill. At the time, I was bemoaning the variety of thistle (and my lack of knowledge) and because of the shape of the flower head I chucked it into the thistle category ... to be identified later. Much later. Perhaps in the winter, I thought, I'd settle down and put a name to each one.

At around the same time I'd challenged myself to collect wildflowers for a cut flower vase. My self-imposed rule was to not use the same flower twice. This worked pretty well for about 6 weeks but by August my collection was an unlikely combination of sheep's sorrel, hazel, and knapweed.


sheep's sorrel, hazel, and knapweed

A motley crew

It wasn't pretty.

What *was* interesting was that when I picked the flowers for my vase, I realized that they weren't thistly at all. Whoa. Now that was a surprise. No prickles on the stem and smooth edges to the leaves. What *was* this thing?

To the books! It seems that the only thistle without prickles is the "Melancholy Thistle" - its drooping buds give it a sad, forlorn appearance. Melancholy thistle is supposed to be relatively common in this area so I was prepared to be convinced. Unfortunately, the buds on my specimens just didn't droop. Through one twist of fate or another, I came across a description of "Knapweed" and that seemed to be a much better fit.

A small number of knapweed plants are still blooming on Copse Hill but, like many of our summer flowers, will soon pass.

Hardheads (aka Knapweed)
October 16
Hardheads (aka Knapweed)
October 16

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Bellflower Sisters



Adria Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)

Adria Bellflower

Before I tell you about the Bellflower sisters, I want to answer two questions posed to me recently about hogweed. The first is: "How tall is hogweed?" Well, judging from a particularly nice specimen that's still blooming just down the hill from St. Michael's in Pennington, hogweed is about 3-4 feet tall. It occurs to me that it's a bit odd this one is still with us; most have passed by this time of year.

The second question is a bit more interesting and was asked by one of my American friends: "Is hogweed related to Queen Anne's Lace?"

I'll confess. My first response was a horrified and blunt "Good God, NO". How could hogweed possibly be related to anything delicately called "Queen Anne's Lace"? Ridiculous! But, alas, and with all due respect to the Royal Family, my gut reaction was wrong.

I'm almost certain that my American friend was referring to wild carrot (Daucus carota). Here in England "Queen Anne's Lace" often refers (I believe) to cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris). Hogweed, as we now know, is a common name for Heracleum sphondylium. Despite having completely different genus/species names, all three plants are found in the same family: Umbelliferae (think "umbrella"). This all goes to show that you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family.


Trailing Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana)

Trailing Bellflower

Now, on to the Bellflowers. The two sisters I have in mind I see quite often and both grow in (which I consider to be) inhospitable and unlikely places. The first is Trailing Bellflower which I find right outside my back door growing wildly in the crack along the cement. It's light blue-purple in color and while the flower is pretty, the foliage is like bad hair. There's just too much of it and I find it so hard to control that around mid-summer I hack at it with a pair of scissors. Of course, with the foliage go the flowers but it all comes back and now, almost November, it's still blooming.

Adria Bellflower is (in my opinion) the prettier sister with its deep purple petals. The photo leading off this article is of a lovely Adria that grows from a crevice my neighbor's stone wall. The sight never fails to amaze me. Somehow, seeing flowers take root and flourish in a wall of rocks is something that will always delight me. John Presland has a website dedicated to the flora of stone walls and I highly recommend it for further reading.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lords-and-Ladies



Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
August 8

I've been wanting to write about Lords-and-Ladies for some time now. It was one of the two unusual plants that I first noticed (and loved) last year when we first moved to the UK. The other was foxglove.

I noticed it because it's so colorful, growing low under the hedgerows. I had no idea for some time what it was - the orange berries not the flower and the leaves absent made it impossible for me to identify.

Earlier this year, I found another striking plant ... it looked very similar to what I knew as a Jack-in-the-pulpit back in New England. I identified it as Lords-and-Ladies (or "cuckoo pint") and posted a photo of it on my aunt's Facebook wall for her birthday. (I always like to give to other people things that I'd like to get. Wouldn't it be awesome to wake up on your birthday, log into your email, and see a photo of a beautiful flower like this?)



Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
Photo taken May 4
The flower head spike is called a "spadix" and is a chocolate dark purple color. It's enclosed in a leaf-like "spathe" and is pretty distinctive.

I was really excited about this one and noted the location (just down the hill from Gamswell Farm - opposite the driveway to the next farmhouse). Soon after, I saw one more flower like this (same stretch of road) but no others.

In June, I started seeing single stems with a single small clusters of green berries - this time I knew what it was. What delighted me was the fact that these were everywhere! Not in great numbers, maybe one or two here and there, but certainly many more than I had ever dreamed, given that I only saw two in flower.

Now, in August, the berries (said to be extremely poisonous) are just past their peak. The stems don't hold up well - except for this monster on the right that seems to defy the laws of gravity. It continues to stand straight and bold, when all other have toppled over. I'll definitely be looking for the regeneration of this one next spring.

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
June 8
Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)
July 30

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nettle Rust



Nettle Rust (Puccinia urticata)

Nettle Rust (Puccinia urticata)

This photo was taken on July 7th. At the time, I was amused that something was attacking and twisting what looked to be a perfectly healthy (and nasty) Stinging Nettle. In fact, I thought it was some sort of caterpillar ... until I touched it and discovered it to be quite solid. Creepy.

Must be some sort of disease (evil laugh), I thought, as I put the photo aside.

Fast forward to my recent discovery of the realm of galls. Galls, according to Wikipedia, are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues and can be caused by various parasites, from fungi and bacteria, to insects and mites. This has opened up a whole new world to me! As I googled the variety of galls one image leapt out at me - nettle rust! So that's what that creepy orange caterpillar-like thing was!

Nettle rust isn't a disease after all but a fungus. Well, no, not a fungus but a deformity caused somehow by a fungus. Puccinia urticata is the fungus' scientific name and, according to my brief study, is mentioned only in connection with Nettle (Urtica dioica).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wild Angelica



Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

I discovered a wonderful blog recently. I think of it as "Bob Donegal's Blog". Actually its author is Stuart Dunlop and its content focuses on Donegal, Ireland. How I get "Bob Donegal" out of that I don't know. So, apologies to Stuart but we dub thee "Bob". Bob's been writing recently about Angelica and that got me to wondering where the heck the Angelica plants have been hiding because I haven't noticed any.

Oh, they're there all right. I just didn't see them for who they really are; mistaking them for hogweed. Yeah. Yeah. Dumb. On a walk past the reservoir I saw hogweed - yes, double check: thick stem, leaves, flower cluster is rimmed by somewhat larger flowers, FLIES. But very close by ... a very similar plant -- but with very purple stem. And its leaves were wildly different. *THERE* WAS MY ANGELICA!


Wild Angelica leaves Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Downy Rose (or more correctly: Gall and Unknown Rose)



Downy Rose (Rosa tomentosa)

Downy Rose (Rosa tomentosa)

This was going to be the mystery flower for the month of August.

Photos of it have been sitting in my iPhoto collection for at least a couple of weeks. I've looked in all my books trying to identify it but it doesn't even look like a flower. It looks more like a dustball that you might find under the bed except that it's bright red.

I've seen it only in one place, just up from Castle Hill farm, on the left and buried in the weeds. Sometimes I'll walk past and don't see it at all, other times it just barely catches my eye. I think it's from outer space. How can it be that none of my books display anything even remotely close? I was flummoxed. I thought maybe my eyesight was really getting bad and that maybe it was just wild strawberries - so I took a closer look and was surprised to discover thorns (ouch) and rose-like leaves. That should have been my first clue.

So, I thought, it must be a rose planted and since forgotten by someone at the nearby farm. My next task would be to concentrate on the rose family (groan). Fortunately, I was saved from that daunting task by a stroke of good fortune: I found a photo of it while browsing the National Education Network Gallery! I need to do a bit more research to confirm but I can't imagine there'd be other flowers that look quite like this one.



Downy Rose (Rosa tomentosa) and Gall

Downy Rose (Rosa tomentosa) and Gall

Update August 09: I can hear my daughter scolding me now: "MOM, YOU DIDN'T EVEN READ IT, DID YOU?"

She's right. I didn't bother to read the text next to the photograph on the NEN website. If I had, I wouldn't have wasted two hours last night searching for a rose that had a bundle of red fibers for a bud.

This is what I would of, could of, should have read:
The Downy rose grows in hedgerows and grassland. Like many wild roses it is frequently attacked by the gall-wasp -Diplolepis rosae. Gall wasps are small dark-coloured insects about 4mm long. The wasp punctures the plant and lays its eggs. The galls are formed by a reaction of the cells of the plant to the presence of the larva. Although the exact reactions in the host plant are little understood. The galls are a mass of filaments within which are found a number of sealed chambers enclosing larvae. The larvae feed on the gall tissue. On downy roses such galls are bright red and known as robin's pin-cushions.

Live and learn.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Garden Privet



Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

Have you ever had a favorite smell take you back to a long-forgotten memory? You know, something you don't smell very often but when you do it brings to mind some event from long ago. Fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies makes me think of baking with my mom. A now-empty perfume bottle reminds me of Dewey Lewis, a high school classmate who brought me a gift from his trip to France. The smell of dirty socks evokes another, a sack of forgotten potatoes - yes that too. I'll think of others.

My favorite smell:memory is without a doubt the Linden tree. I remember sitting in the shade of a huge Linden tree - its fragrance was subtle but stunning. This was in Glenmoore Pennsylvania and I was with my husband and son; we were watching a Little League game. It was one of life's perfect moments.

All of this leads me to the Garden Privet for which I have no specific associated memory - just a good feeling. The smell is unmistakable and more lovely, I think, than any rose. The hedge is alive with bees when Privet is blooming and the gentle hum is surprisingly soothing.

How do I know?
Confidence level: ★★★★☆
Habitat: Hedge along pastures; near homes.
Leaves: shiny, smooth, no rough edges
Stem: round, not hairy
Insects observed: BEES
Flower: white
Bloom: July
Odor: DIVINE

There are really only two choices: Wild Privet and Garden Privet.

Ovate leaf shape Lanceolate leaf shape Ovate or Lanceolate?  That is the question.


Wild Privet has lanceolate leaves and minutely hairy 1st year twigs.
Garden Privet has ovate leaves and young shoots are glabrous (hairless).

The photo looks like lanceolate leaves to me but the young twigs are hairless. Even with my glasses AND a magnifying glass they appear hairless. So go figure.

A Hedgerow of Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) A Bee visiting Garden Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Woody Nightshade



Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

It's an overcast and misty Tuesday. Cooper and I took her favorite walk, through Loppergarth, past the Cowran Estate with its Scottish Highland Cattle, and up to Lindal. She likes it because at one point there's a gate leading to a field of rare-breed pigs. They're huge. She'll stand there, watch them, listen to their snorts.

This walk is a favorite of mine too because of the Woody Nightshade (aka Bittersweet). I think I cover, more or less, 10 miles of countryside walking the dogs on a regular basis and I've only found Woody Nightshade in this one spot - just before Lindal where we turn to retrace our steps for home. I always stop to admire the purple and yellow. I've tried many times to take a good photo but somehow the pictures don't do it justice.



Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

Leaf may have 2 small basal lobes
Woody Nightshade is like an ivy or like goosegrass in that it seems to like to grow over the other shrubs in the hedge. There don't seem to be tendrils; it's just that the stem is sturdy enough to support the upward growth - just enough - so that it settles into the hedge.

Looking carefully, I noticed a cluster of green berries. They're said to contain a toxic substance (solanine). A bit too much like its sister Deadly Nightshade (which is of course deadly).

I realized at that point, at the turnaround, that it would be tough going to find the blossoms for a fresh vase of cut flowers - it is Tuesday, after all. Herb-Robert is still blooming, along with nettlewort, red campion, and meadowsweet. But nothing new - nothing abundant enough or suitable for a vase. Certainly not the Nightshade.

How do I know?
Confidence level: ★★★★★
Habitat: Hedgerow between road and pasture (sheep)
Leaves: Cordate (broad base with pointed tip; lower (larger) leaves may have 1 or 2 rounded lobes at base)
Stem: slender, ivy-like, woody
Insects observed: none
Flower: two-tone: purple/yellow; 5 pointed purple petals bending back toward stem / central yellow cone
Bloom: July
Odor: none
Fruit: green berries (July)

Woody Nightshade Woody Nightshade berries

Monday, July 26, 2010

Common Ragwort



Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

Today did not start out well.

I don't often hear from my brothers or sisters but I did get a message this morning. It was from my older brother. He had written a brief missive earlier in the year that went something along these lines:
Found squirrel in your house. Poop everywhere. Living room curtains shredded. Cornered him in your bedroom. Killed with baseball bat.

I don't like messages from that brother.

This morning's surprise was accompanied by a photo of what was once my yard and is now a jungle. It went something like this:
Sassafras seedlings have taken over your lawn and gardens. Okay if I poison?

It can be really difficult to be an ocean away from my family, friends, and home - especially when news like this makes me want to take the first flight back to the states to put things right. I can't imagine spraying poison anywhere near my flowers or vegetable garden and hope that someone will make the effort to cut back the sassafras, keep it cut back, and leave poison out of it.

The English countryside has its calming effects but even after a walk with the dogs, the best I can come up with today to write about is Ragwort.

I first noticed Ragwort on Walney earlier this month. I'm seeing more of it on my walks here in Pennington but it's not common. A beautiful yellow but not much else going for it.

I keep thinking about a conversation that took place last week. I was asked about the difference (if any) between "knowledge" and "information" and somewhere in the chit-chat this rhetorical question was posed: "How do you know?"

It didn't seem much to me at the time but that simple question has risen to the top of my consciousness more than once or twice since. Indeed. What a great way to assess the difference between fact and opinion. How do I know? How do I know that the plant I encountered was a Common Ragwort? There was no accompanying label. There are plants that look quite similar with yellow daisy-like flowers and green toothed leaves. How do I know?

That prompts me to think about the purpose of this blog and that is simply to remind me of my travels and the flowers along the way. It doesn't matter to me that I'm not an expert at identifying wildflowers. But it would be helpful to me to detail other identifying characteristics that aren't always apparent in a photograph or two. Things like habitat, time of year, type of stem, smell, and so many other things that distinguish one species from another. If I did that, I'd be a bit more confident about my identification skills. (For example, in determining a species of St. John's Wort it's helpful to look at the stems - are they square? That's not easy to assess from a photograph.)

So I'll begin today.

How do I know?
Confidence level: ★★★★☆
Habitat: Roadside along pastures (cattle, horses); within 1/4 mile of coast.
Leaves: Pinnatifid (shape is like pinnatisect but not as deeply cut to the midrib)
Stem: round, not hairy, upright, top half is branched
Insects observed: soldier beetles
Flower: composite, bright yellow
Bloom: July
Odor: none


Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) Soldier Beetles snacking on Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)


Update 27July2010
: Last night at the theatre we watched "Inception" which brought to mind the "How do you know?" question (again). Perhaps the juxtaposition isn't between fact and opinion but between reality and dreams.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Elder



Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

I've left it too long.

I've wanted to write a bit about the Elders and other things got in the way.

Elder is one of many plants used in the dense hedgerows that keep the livestock in the pastures and the cars and tractors on the road. When Hawthorn stops blooming in late May, Elder takes over so seamlessly that if I wasn't paying attention I wouldn't have noticed. Now, with July in full swing, the Elder has faded and the hedges are solid green with no more splashes of white.

Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Elder (Sambucus nigra)


Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

Ground Elder is like Elder's little sister. It's not a shrub at all but a much smaller plant, growing to about a foot or bit more in height. It seemed to bloom at the same time as Elder and the flowers of both are very similar although I think Ground Elder has a whiter white. It wasn't uncommon to see Elder in the hedge blooming wildly with Ground Elder, underneath, just as comely. Ground elder was superb as a cutting in my flower vase (unlike its uncooperative big sister).

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)
Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)
Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)
Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

This past week, local sheep have been clipped, marked, sprayed, and had a foot bath. [Sounds a bit like a trip to the spa.] They're all now back in the fields, looking spiffy albeit with a big splash of red on their backsides. Next on the farmers' list of chores was to trim back the hedges along the roads. And that trimming was what put the end to a particularly lovely section of ground elder.

Now, their seasons are over and my attention turns to other lovelies.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mystery - July



Mystery of the Month (July)

WHO AM I?

One of the things that I love about this project is that just about every day I notice something new.

Today's surprise is just the cutest thing. There are about 20 or so scattered plants just past the cow barn along the road just before Loppergarth. They're striking in that each leaf has a spot in the center and it's shaped like a heart. They're all that way. Not quite blooming but just starting something that looks pink.

Usually I take a few snapshots hoping that I'll be able to identify whatever-it-is later. That identification process, for me, is always fun but neither easy nor quick. Most of my photos don't get posted right away (or at all).

That's the feeling I have about this one. I have no idea how to start. Not much of a flower. Leaf with brown spot. It looks familiar; like something I might have pulled out of the garden as a weed perhaps? But I'd have left it there with such interesting leaves.

Anyway, these are just too wonderful to keep to myself. I'll update later with a name if I ever discover what it might be.


Mystery of the Month (July) Mystery of the Month (July)


Redshank (Persicaria maculosa)

Redshank (Persicaria maculosa)

Update July 15: EUREKA!

I've picked up a couple of new books and one of them, The Concise British Flora in Colour, is just wonderful. It has the most delicious illustrations of plants and I really enjoyed paging through ... and there it was! The mystery plant! Labeled as Polygonum persicaria (in 1965) but the Latin name these days seems to be Persicaria maculosa. Common name is Redshank and here's a site with more info.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Rose of Sharon



Rose of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum)

Rose of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum)

I gave Dave a little test yesterday. I showed him this photo and asked him if he thought it looked like "Rose of Sharon".

He looked puzzled.
Don't we have Rose of Sharon growing at home in our yard [back in Connecticut]?
Yes, we do.
Isn't it a tall shrub with pink flowers?
Yes, it is.

Aha!
The current Wikipedia entry for Rose of Sharon states:
... The name's colloquial application has been used as an example of the lack of precision of common names, which potentially causes confusion.
No shit, Sherlock.


Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

So, in the States, "Rose of Sharon" is used to refer to Hibiscus syriacus, a large woody shrub with large pink/purple flowers.

In the UK, "Rose of Sharon" is used to refer to Hypericum calycinum, a smaller shrub with bright yellow flowers.

What, I wondered, do Americans call Hypericum calycinum?
Aaron's Beard or St. John's Wort

And what do the British call Hibiscus syriacus?
Beats me. It's not in any of my four books (I bought another one today). Hibiscus isn't listed at all. Weird, huh? Not even the monstrous 700 page (over 1,900 species) Collins Flower Guide [THE MOST COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE FLOWERS OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND] has Hibiscus listed. A quick look at Google results suggests that it might be called "Tree Hollyhock". Maybe Hibiscus is just not all that common in the UK.


Rose of Sharon (Hypericum calycinum)

Growing on a stone wall

And the point of all this is to show me, yet again:
Why there are Latin names for these plants and Why I should pay more attention to those Latin names and Why I shouldn't get my knickers in a knot over the common names.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lesser Stitchwort



Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)

Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)

I had this one misidentified at first. For some reason, I thought it was "Greater Stitchwort" but I came across it again this morning, along the road just short of the Cowran Estate (with its rheas and Scottish Highland Cattle), and plucked a strand to take a closer look when I got home.

It's impossible to tell from the photos here but the leaves of Lesser Stitchwort are much shorter (less than 4cm ~ about 1 inch) as compared to Greater Stitchwort (between 4-8cm). [All that foliage in the photo is from neighboring grasses which help support the Stitchwort.] Taking a magnified view of the flowers ... petals and sepals are roughly the same length.



Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)

Growing in the grass
The reason I like the Stitchwort so much is that I only notice it in this one spot where the grass is allowed to grow taller along the side of the road. There are usually cows or sheep in the field and it's a restful place.

I've found that it's helpful to have more than one source to use for identification. My first choice, my little Collins Nature Guide (color-coded), lists only the Greater Stitchwort (which was probably the reason for my earlier misidentification). Next, I'd try my favorite, Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain, which has excellent illustrations and really fun-to-read entries. And that would lead me to the authoritative (and not so much fun) Collins Flower Guide [still mostly mumbo-jumbo to me]. These three books are not enough! So I've ordered four more.


Loppergarth

Loppergarth

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Goat's Beard



Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis)

Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratensis)

Goat's Beard joins many of the flowers in South Walney in that I haven't noticed it on my walks around Pennington. The walks are similar, both follow narrow lanes, but there's obviously something quite different. Don't ask me what. More horses there maybe?

The Goat's Beard wasn't blooming but drew my attention because of the monstrous-sized fluff that looked like dandelion, just much larger. You know, it seems silly almost to write about it when there are so many other plants to write about. But it serves as a reminder to me that plants are out there in all walks of life and even though the blooming phase may be the most fun, the others are just as interesting and we can still identify plants (some of them anyway) without the lovely blossoms.

And this reminds me of a story I wanted to tell about finding a shriveled-up plant in the pocket of my red flannel shirt yesterday. It was beyond recognition which was sad. But *that* reminded me of another story of a time when I was working in the library at West Chester University. It was lunchtime; I was hungry. I didn't bring my lunch that day. In desperation, I searched through my pocketbook and was delighted to find a small plastic bag. Unfortunately, the bag contained cat feces which I'd intended to drop off at the vet's office a couple of weeks earlier.

You can tell alot about a person by what's left forgotten in their pockets.

And so, back to Goat's Beard. I've been having fun reading through a book by Edward Step, F.L.S. [whatever F.L.S. means] called: Wayside and Woodland Blossoms: A Guide to British Wild Flowers (1941). In it he says that "one of the folk-names of this plant [Goat's Beard] is 'John-go-to-bed-at-Noon,' which is one of the few examples of a British plant name that is a sentence of six words."

He goes on to say that it doesn't quite beat the record set by the pansy: "... in north-west Lincolnshire the pansy is called 'Meet-her-i'-th'-entry-kiss-her-i'-th'-buttery.'"

I think I may start a list of folk-names.

And so, back to Goat's Beard. If I understand Edward Step correctly, the reason why the Goat's Beard wasn't blooming was because the flower opens at four in the morning and closes by noon.

Now that gives me another reason to go back to Walney. Earlier in the day next time!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rosebay Willowherb


Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)
Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)

On my trip to Walney, I went looking specifically for Purple-loosestrife. Yellow loosestrife is gorgeous and I really wanted to find the purple version. Never mind that the two aren't even related [I didn't know that at the time]. According to my books, they looked the same (except in color) and ... I assumed ...

So what was it that drew me back to Walney? What did I see that I thought was Purple-loosestife?

Turns out that it was Rosebay Willowherb. A wispy beautiful blowing-in-wind pink/purple that seems to like to grow in large patches away from the side of the road. It's quite a bit like Yellow Loosestrife in that way. I've never seen just one by itself. And never in the narrow spots between a road and the hedge. Seems to need a bit more space than that.

July is definitely its month.

Rosebay Willowherb
Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)

Update July 12: As I sit at my desk at look out the window, I can see a large patch of Rosebay Willowherb. It would take me at least 5 minutes to walk there from the house and, even then, I wouldn't be able to get to it easily as it's behind fences in an overgrown field. I love that I can recognize it from here.

Rosebay Willowherb view from my window
View from my window

Update July 13: Some books show this to be Epilobium angustifolium; others use the name Chamerion angustifolium. I followed the Collins Flower Guide and used the latter.