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Flowers and ferns (not Britton)

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King of Quok
174733.  Tue May 15, 2007 4:31 pm Reply with quote

Well, I threatened it, so here it is!

I thought I'd start with some 'F' flowers first, of which, there are surprisingly few.

The foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is well-known as the supplier of digitalin, the cardiac medicine. The scientific name is from Latin 'digitus', presumably because the plant's flowers look like the fingers of a glove. The common name came from an old tale that foxes would borrow the flowers from fairies to wear on their feet whilst out hunting, so as to muffle the sound of their tread when stalking prey. Foxgloves are an invasive weed because of their hundreds of tiny, wind-dispersed seeds. Every part of the plant is poisonous, and the digitalin content is so high that it can poison grazing livestock that happen to take a bit out of a leaf, and some people have reported numbness in their hands after weeding out large patches of foxgloves. The Welsh call it menyg ellyllon, which means 'the good people's [fairies'] glove'.

Common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), a decidedly unspectacular yellow flowers (like a small corn marigold) was burnt in the past as the smoke was alleged to drive out fleas, as the scientific name, from Latin 'pulex', a 'flea', shows. The specific name, 'dysenterica' means it was also used as a remedy for dysentry, killing two birds with one stone. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) was another medical plant brought to Britain by medieval herbalists reputed to be able to drive out fever and headaches. Its name is by way of medieval Latin, 'tanazita', ultimately from Greek for 'immortality'.

The field forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis) has a scientific generic name from the Latin for 'mouse ear', because of its narrow, pointed leaves. It used to be known also as 'scorpion grass' because its sprays uncurl as the flowers open, like the sting of a scorpion. There is a Grimm tale about the origin of the flower's common name, about a shepherd boy who picks a flower which opens a door in the mountain leading to a cave of jewels and a beautiful princess. He drops the flower in his haste to grab jewels, and as he goes to leave, the princess calls out 'forget not the best!'. He thinks she means the jewels, and goes to pick up more as the door closes. He realises just in time and escapes, but leaves behind the flower so that he can never enter the cave again. It's called Vergissmeinnicht in German.

Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis) is an inconspicuous pink spurred flower which gets its name from the Latin for 'smoke', for one of three reasons: the bluish leaves look (with a fair amount of imagination) like rising smoke; the juice, like smoke, brings tears to the eyes, and the roots, when dug up, smell smoky. It was used as an ancient (and I should think not vastly successful) remedy for scurvy.

A few other plants who have entertaining 'f' names are the friendship plant (Billbergia nutans) a sort of bromeliad named scientifically for the Swedish botanist J. Billberg and the Latin for 'nodding' - which gets its common name from the fact that it is enormously easy to grow, as a rosette can be pulled from the parent plant and given as a gift which will grow into a complete plant itself. The fish-poison pea (Tephrosia pondoensis) is a South African shrub which contains so much rotenone it is used to kill unwanted fish in streams and rivers. The flor-de-muerto, or flower-of-the-dead is a Mexican orchid, Laelia autumnis, whose bulbs are crushed up with lemon juice, sugar, flour and egg whites and moulded into skull-shaped sweets for the November Day of the Dead. For some reason they get their scientific name from a Roman Vestal Virgin.

The fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), which shares its common name with a genus of butterfly, is a beautiful purple-and-pink-chequerboard patterned, bell-shaped flower, the scientific name coming from the Latin 'fritillus', meaning 'a dice-box', because of its markings. It's one of Britain's rarest indigenous wild flowers.

Though not flowering plants, ferns deserve a mention. The earliest fern fossils date back 400 million years. 'F' is also for 'frenzy' and that's what ferns spraked amongst the Victorians, who, finding the delicate, intricate leaves of ferns appealing, and inpired by a nationwide interest in field botany, gave into pteridomania (a craving for ferns). The plants were in such demand, that dealers gathered them from the wild, wiping out some species totally, and developing some new, cultivated forms, many of which vanished when the large estates of Britain fell into decline during the World Wars. There are some ferns, especially some of the Woodsia genus, that still have not recovered inthe wild from the Victorians' predations.

Hope there was something QI in amongst those ramblings!

 
samivel
174756.  Tue May 15, 2007 6:27 pm Reply with quote

Plenty. Thanks very much :)


Snake's Head Fritillary


Crown Imperial Fritillary


Gentner's Fritillary

Sadly I can't find a picture of a fritillary resting on a fritillary.

 
Jenny
174768.  Tue May 15, 2007 8:58 pm Reply with quote

I planted half a dozen fritillaries in my garden, and only one of the buggers came up :-( - and it was plain white, when I thought it was going to be one of those cool checky ones.

 
smiley_face
174785.  Wed May 16, 2007 2:26 am Reply with quote

More on ferns...

 
Norfolkian
175214.  Thu May 17, 2007 3:37 am Reply with quote

Today I found out that forget-me-nots are very difficult to photograph. Here is the best one I managed:



And a few more quite interesting titbits:

-The forget-me-not is the state flower of Alaska.

-In 15th century German is was thought that wearers of forget-me-nots would not be forgotten by their lover.

And a connection with Freemasonry!
-In 1948 a forget-me-not badge was adopted as a Masonic emblem at the first Annual Convention of the United Grand Lodges of Germany, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. The flower, or badge, is now universally worn as a Masonic emblem in the coat lapel to remember all those that have suffered in the name of Freemasonry, and specifically those during the Nazi era.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget-me-not

 
Norfolkian
175219.  Thu May 17, 2007 3:42 am Reply with quote

Norfolkian wrote:
Today I found out that forget-me-nots are very difficult to photograph. Here is the best one I managed:



And a few more quite interesting titbits:

-The forget-me-not is the state flower of Alaska.

-In 15th century Germany it was thought that wearers of forget-me-nots would not be forgotten by their lover.

And a connection with Freemasonry!
-In 1948 a forget-me-not badge was adopted as a Masonic emblem at the first Annual Convention of the United Grand Lodges of Germany, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. The flower, or badge, is now universally worn as a Masonic emblem in the coat lapel to remember all those that have suffered in the name of Freemasonry, and specifically those during the Nazi era.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget-me-not

 
Jenny
175468.  Thu May 17, 2007 12:33 pm Reply with quote

Could I ask you chaps and chapesses to please either resize pictures or find smaller ones? Some of these are a bit BIG on the page.

 
smiley_face
175574.  Fri May 18, 2007 3:30 am Reply with quote

The fact it's the exact same post twice doesn't really help either. Could you possibly delete the repeat please Jenny?

(and this post too :-D )

 
Sergei
175582.  Fri May 18, 2007 3:47 am Reply with quote

(It looks profligate, but it doesn't take the double-posted image any longer to download. It's the same file, so it is only transmitted once.)

 
smiley_face
175586.  Fri May 18, 2007 3:59 am Reply with quote

It's not so much the time it takes to download, as the fact it consumes the entire screen if you are using a small laptop as I am.

 
Norfolkian
175779.  Fri May 18, 2007 10:07 am Reply with quote

smiley_face wrote:
It's not so much the time it takes to download, as the fact it consumes the entire screen if you are using a small laptop as I am.


Are you calling me fat?!

Seriously though, sorry about that. I'm new and have no idea what I'm doing! I meant to edit it and pressed the wrong button. *sits in the corner wearing dunce's hat*

 
Jenny
176288.  Sun May 20, 2007 9:49 pm Reply with quote

I've just noticed I'm not a moderator on this forum as it's a new one, but I'll send a message to the techie people and get that sorted out.

 
Ian Dunn
181547.  Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:09 am Reply with quote

Here is an interesting "F" fact. Three "F's" in fact.

A flower or fruit anniversary is on the fourth year.

 
King of Quok
181612.  Sun Jun 10, 2007 5:46 pm Reply with quote

The flower anniversary reminded me of something else. I wonder, should they choose to do an episode centred around flowers, or flora, whether Mr. Fry could present each of the pannelists with a bouquet containing blossoms that carried a message in the traditional 'language' of flowers that Ophelia alludes to in Hamlet?

Here's some 'f' flowers and their purported meanings:

Feverfew: protection 'let me shield you'
Flax: gratitude 'you are very kind'
Fool's Parsley: foolishness 'do not be so silly!'
Forget-me-not: rememberance 'think of me during my absence'
Fritillary: doubt 'can I trust you?'
Fuchsia: warning 'beware, your lover is false!'
Fumitory: anger 'I shall never waste another thought on you'

I suggest Alan gives Steven angelica ('love of you is my inspiration), godetia ('your company is delightful') and white lillies ('I kiss the hem of your garment').

And Steven can give Alan dandelion ('your pretensions are ridiculous'), hart's tongue fern ('set a curb on your idle tongue!') and sweet william ('I was only teasing you').

Failing that, they can just give one another sprigs of flowering currant ('we have nothing at all in common').

 
Jenny
181961.  Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:34 am Reply with quote

I like that suggestion!

 

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