Sunday 3 May 2020

Flora Tensensis 20.05.03

In the areas where I have not been mowing the lawn in order to allow Lesser Celandine to flower, there are a few other plants seizing their opportunity to perpetuate their species. So today's instalment of Flora Tensensis is about one of these.

Ribwort Plantain  Plantago lanceolata

Perhaps not the most colourful flower, but one with plenty of cultural history. The plant has many medicinal uses, as well as the flower stalks being used for several children's games. One of these is similar to 'conkers', with the aim of knocking off the flower head of your rival's plantain stem. Folklore has it that in Scotland, this game, and indeed the plant, are known as Carl Doddies, conjuring up a memory of the '45 Jacobite Rebellion with Bonnie Prince Charlie (Carl) battling with King George III (Doddie is the Scottish diminutive of George). However, several other species of plants go by this folk name, and in Orkney 'Curl Doddie' refers to Clover.

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