Wednesday 15 April 2020

Flora Tensensis 20.04.15

Perhaps I should've paced myself better? After splurging three species in the first FT post a few days ago, there's nowt else come into flower. Well, that's not strictly true, as there was a plant I omitted from Post Numero Uno due to the lack of a suitable close up photo. At the time, as I recall, it was late afternoon and the sun had been obscured by clouds, so the flowers were not showing to their optimum (which is only a typical judgemental human assessment of what qualifies as success, I'll admit).

But, better late than never (and I hope you're sitting comfortably), here's...

Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna (formerly Ranunculus ficaria)

Not only is it abundant in the nearby verges and ditches, it has spread freely across our whole site, being present in the flower border, all grassed areas and also the hard standing for our cars. The plant is able to colonise areas so readily due to its knobbly tubers, which easily separate from the root system. According to the unscientific and now discredited Doctrine of Signatures of the 16th -18th Centuries, the tubers looked like haemorrhoids, so the plant was used to treat piles (and an obsolete name from this time was Pilewort).

The 'Celandine' name derives from the Greek chelidon which means a Swallow, the plant being seen as a vegetable version of the avian precursor of a new season. However, as the Lesser Celandine often flowers much earlier than the sighting of the first Swallow, it has been conjectured that this theory was probably based on the Greater Celandine Chelidonium majus, which is a member of the Poppy family, not the Buttercup one. Yet another reason to doubt the wisdom of allowing humans to classify anything.

My thanks to Richard Mabey's 'Flora Britannica' for the floral facts.

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