Sunday, April 05, 2009

100 Species Challenge: Part 6

Back in August last year I started a 100 Species Challenge, aiming to identify one hundred separate species of local plants. I'm afraid I am a fair-weather naturalist and haven't added to my list since October, but in the spirit of Rule 7 I am picking up again where I left off:

7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge.
For the time being, at least, I am including my running list of plants, with new additions in bold.

Species identified:

1. Daisy
2. Creeping buttercup
3. White clover
4. Selfheal
5. Dandelion
6. Red clover
7. Autumn hawkbit
8. Weeping willow
9. Horse chestnut
10. Sycamore
11. Alder
12. Elder
13. Ragwort
14. Mugwort

15. Lesser Celandine
16. Germander Speedwell

Lesser Celandine

Scientific name: Ranunculus ficaria
Family: Ranunculaceae
Flowers: March to May

Lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family and, confusingly, completely unrelated to the greater celandine. Common names for the flower include smallwort, figwort, brighteye, butter and cheese (love that one!), and pilewort. That last name gives a clue to its main medicinal use. Yes. Haemorrhoids.

Once in flower the plant becomes toxic, but if picked before the flowers appear the leaves can be eaten as spring greens. Here is a recipe for Lesser Celandine Strogonoff (yet again I am amazed at what it is possible to find on the internet!).

Lesser celandine was a favourite flower of the poet Wordsworth, who memorialised it in three poems ...
To The Small Celandine

Pansies, Lilies, Kingcups, Daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there's a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory;
Long as there are Violets,
They will have a place in story:
There's a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine.
Read the rest of this poem and other other two here.

My photograph was taken early in the day while the flower still had its petals folded. As it brightens they open like this.

Germander Speedwell

Scientific name: Veronica chamaedrys
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Flowers: March to July

There are many varieties of speedwell, but I am 99% certain that this is the commonly found germander speedwell. This pretty little pale blue flower has equally pretty common names: angels' eyes, bird's eye, God's eye, and eyebright.

The name of the speedwell genus, Veronica, is no coincidence. The markings on the inside of the flower are said to resemble the markings left on the cloth used by St. Veronica to wipe the face of Jesus on His way to His crucifixion.

Speedwell is mentioned in a number of poems. This verse is from Tennyson's Spring:
Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire,
The little speedwell's darling blue,
Deep tulip's dashed with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.
In herbal medicine speedwell is used to treat coughs and catarrh, and as a blood tonic.

Information: A Contemplation Upon Flowers (Bobby J.Ward)

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I think I knew most of the ones you've identified. I just love the names of those english wildflowers.