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!

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