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Archive for the ‘Color: Blue-Purple’ Category

This is one of my favorite wildflowers which grows here in Stockholm. It is delicate, intricate, and absolutely beautiful. I found it growing in the first half of May in a marshy area next to a pond. I am reminded of when it should be blooming every time mother’s day is celebrated in the U.S. I think about how beautiful the flower is, I wish my mother was here to see it.

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Kungsängslilja, Snake’s head lily, Stockholm, Sweden, May

In Swedish, Kungsängslilja got its name from Kungsängen (King’s Meadow), a meadow near Fyris River outside Uppsala. It means, literally, King’s Meadow Lily. It is said that the flowers grew in great number there after the battle between Erik Segersäll and Styrbjörn Starke in the 10th century (Battle of Fyrisvellir). For every fallen Danish soldier, a red/purple flower grew, for every fallen Swedish, a white flower grew. The white kungsängsliljor are less common than the red/purple, more Danes were killed than Swedes, and Erik was victorious. Kungsängslilja is Uppland’s official flower, or “landskapsblomma”.

snakes head lilly - white

Kungsängslilja, Snake’s head lily, Stockholm, Sweden, May

In English, this flower has several different names. The pattern on the petals is a little like snake skin. I think I find it so fascinating because it’s not native in the U.S., where I grew up. It is said to be native to Europe and western Asia and is quite rare. I look forward to every May, when I long for the days to get warmer, and this beautiful being appears and gives me hope that spring is springing.

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Kungsängslilja, Snake’s head lily, Stockholm, Sweden, May

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These little blue flowers hiding under a bush are called ‘blåsippor’ in Swedish. They grow in the spring time between March and May in well-drained soil, on lime usually in half-shaded woodsy areas.

Blåsippor, Hepatica nobilis, Stockholm, Sweden April 2015

Blåsippor, Hepatica nobilis, Stockholm, Sweden April 2015

The English name comes straight from the flower’s Latin name: Hepatica nobilis. We don’t have Hepatica back in the U.S., at least none that I have seen. According to ‘Blommor i Sverige’ by Janzon and Mossberg, hepatica were used to cure liver disease because the leaf looks like a human liver. In fact, that is where its name comes from. Hepatica comes from Latin’s ‘hepar’ which means liver (think: hepatitis). Because it contains the toxin protoanemonin (like the other buttercups in its family), you shouldn’t eat it, despite what they used to say in the 1600’s.

I was especially surprised to see these blåsippor next to my friend’s driveway because I had read that they were protected due to over-picking. They are protected in Skåne, Halland, Västra Götaland, Stockholm and Västerbotten counties. This flower is used to represent the political party the Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna).

With these spring flowers which appear just after the frost, I also hope to come out of hibernation and share more of the beautiful spring flowers popping up everywhere. Vi ses snart (see you soon)!

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I was in Southern Sweden over the weekend and found this flower by a tree stump next to the lake. I thought they were interesting, a group of purple balls balancing on their thin stalks, waving in the wind.

Sand Leek (Skogslök), Halland Sweden in June

Sand Leek (Skogslök), Halland Sweden in June

When I got closer, I could smell onion. I realized that the onion smell was coming from one of the broken stalks. So it is no surprise that this flower is called sand leek in English and skogslök (wood onion) in Swedish (Latin name Allium scorodoprasum). They grow in fresh, humus-rich soil near water. They were once farmed and a popular for use in cooking. The sand leek is native to Europe. There is another flower that is similar, sandlök (called wild garlic in English) which actually grows in more dry sandy areas. I wonder why the wood onion was named sand leek in English? Linnaeus mentioned that sand leek was cooked with cabbage in his time. It smelled so good, I can imagine eating it!

Sand Leek (skogslök), Halland, Sweden, June

Sand Leek (skogslök), Halland, Sweden, June

This flower is my first Allium. I have seen alllium growing in gardens for show, I had no idea that Allium had so many relatives and that they smell like onion or garlic. Allium are members of the Amaryllis family (although one book I have says they are part of the lilly family, although that might be out of date now).

 

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Over the weekend, I went walking in the woods in central Sweden. When we crossed a small dirt road I came across some lupines in full bloom.

Lupine, Central Sweden, September

Lupine, Central Sweden, September

The Swedish name is quite similar to the English name, they’ve just added ‘blomster’ which means ‘flower’ to the front of it.  But where does ‘lupine’ come from? Lupine (or lupinus, its Latin name) means ‘of wolves’. According to wikipedia, there could be 2 possible reasons for having this name. One reason could be that because of the plant’s toxicity, it killed livestock like wolves do. Another explanation for the name comes from the belief that lupines suck all the nutrients from the soil killing the things around it, like wolves kill livestock. In reality, lupines return much needed nitrogen to the soil, and maybe just got this name because it is often found in waste areas where there is not much else growing (like sandy roadsides).

This plant has the skull and crossbones next to it in my Edible Wild Plants book – even though lupines have pea-like flowers, they cannot be substituted for peas! They contain a poisonous alkaloid and should not be consumed.

Lupine, Central Sweden, September

Lupine, Central Sweden, September

I love getting up close and noticing the intricacies of the flower. They look blue from afar but actually have a bit of purple and white on them as well. They are most commonly a bluish-purple but can vary in color from white to pink. Apparently a lupine population will shift from multicolored to blue over time, this is because the genes for blue color are dominant and the white or pink genes are recessive.

All the resources I have on wildflowers say that this plant blooms June-July, but I saw it going strong in mid-September in Sweden! I am not sure what species this was, but most sources say these can be garden escapes and not originally wild. That being said, all lupines found in Europe have technically already escaped, since they originally came from North America in the 1800’s. I have seen these beautiful flowers along the highway in New England – what a sight to see on a stretch of nothing much else.  I have a special place in my heart for lupines because I grew up with the book ‘Miss Rumphius‘ by Barbara Cooney. If you are a lover of nature and flowers and the world’s beauty, you will enjoy this children’s book.

An excerpt:

‘When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live by the sea’

‘That is all very well, little Alice’ said her grandfather, ‘but there is a third thing you must do.’

‘What is that?’ asked Alice.

‘You must do something to make the world more beautiful,’ said her grandfather.’

And Alice Rumphius goes on to travel the world and spreads Lupine seeds to make the world a more beautiful place.  Dear reader – whoever you may be – when you see a lupine, or any flower for that matter, remember that you should go out and do something to make the world a more beautiful place! But don’t spread lupine seeds – they are alien to Sweden and may threaten native flora by taking over their habitat.

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In mid-July, I went for a walk near my home in Stockholm and spotted this frilly flower by the side of a path on a hill.

Knapweed

In English, it is called Brown Knapweed and in Swedish it is called Rödklint.  ‘Knap’ and ‘klint’ are both old words meaning a small hill or crest of a hill, which seems quite fitting since I found it on a hill. It also grows in meadows and roadsides, anywhere in Southern and Central Sweden. It isn’t ‘röd’ (meaning ‘red’ in Swedish) but more of a purple color.

Knapweed1

This plant grows to between 30 and 80 cm high and has narrow leaves at random intervals on the stalk. The flower is what drew me to it – with its frilly head of what looks almost like purple hair. Looking closer, I liked the way the flower grows out of the ‘blomkorg’ (=literally flower basket, but meaning flower head), which looks like an acorn.

Ants enjoy eating the nutritious fruit and in this way help to spread the plant’s seeds. In the winter, the fruit in the flower head serve as food for birds.

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I just saw this flower blooming in the gravel by the train station in the Southwest of Sweden. Pretty nondescript, I didn’t even realize it was a flower until I happened to look a little closer. After some digging, I believe this is a Corn Spurry (or spurrey, or in Swedish åkerspärgel). I’d never heard of a spurry before, and it turns out they are a member of the pink family. These are different than the rest of the pinks, though, because the petals aren’t notched. There are only 2 spurries in Sweden, the åkerspärgel and the vårspärgel. I think this is the former because it wasn’t standing upright.

Corn Spurry (Åkerspärgel), July in southwest Sweden

Corn Spurry (Åkerspärgel), July in southwest Sweden

I think I’ve identified it correctly, but I can’t be too sure because it was a little blue/purple and it is described as white. It is such a pleasure to find such a cute new flower to add to my collection, hiding among weeds and making an otherwise boring area by the train tracks a little prettier.

Corn Spurry (Åkerspärgel), July in southwest Sweden

Corn Spurry (Åkerspärgel), July in southwest Sweden

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This purple flower began to bloom at the end of April but last week the population really exploded! I had a hard time identifying it, for some reason I completely missed it in my Flower book. Thanks to http://www.artportalen.se/plants/, I found out that this flower is called Stor Nunneört in Swedish and Pink Corydalis in English (Corydalis solida). Another name for it in English is ‘Bird-in-a-bush’. The Swedish name means Nun Herb perhaps due to it being found in cloister areas.

Corydalis (stor nunneört) May in Sweden

Corydalis (stor nunneört) May in Sweden

A member of the fumitory or bleeding-heart subfamily within the larger Poppy family, it has distinctive tubular e-lipped spurred flowers typical of the fumitories. The flower was a darker purple early in its bloom and now has turned more pale purple. Some may consider it a weed, some use it in their gardens. It grows in moist areas in the early spring and has unique fern-like leaves that serve as a nice ground covering.

Corydalis (stor nunneört) Leaves, May in Sweden

Corydalis (stor nunneört) Leaves, May in Sweden

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Corydalis (stor nunneört) April in Sweden

This patch of land has not been mowed in a while. It has been completely overtaken by corydalis and bumblebees are quite busy enjoying them. I love flowers that look simple from far away, then closer up you notice they are much more complicated.

Corydalis (stor nunneört) May in Sweden

Corydalis (stor nunneört) May in Sweden

 

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I don’t know what the name of this flower is, it might be an escapee from a garden somewhere.

Daisy, Southern Sweden early May

Daisy, Southern Sweden early May

My guess is that it is a member of the daisy/composite family (Asteraceae or Compositae), the largest family of flowering plants. Flowers from this family are either disc florets (thistle-like), ray florets (dandelion-like) or both (daisy-like) (reference: Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, Fitter et al). This one is daisy-like, with the blue ray floret surrounding the yellow disc floret in the center. The brownish stems had little hairs on them, they weren’t very tall. They look a lot like other asters but the leaves were not similar to any in my flower identification books. Also, this flower was solitary, whereas other asters have many flowers per stalk.

Daisy, Southern Sweden in early May

Daisy, Southern Sweden in early May

I looked up how to say “daisy” in Swedish and folkets lexikon gave me “tusensköna”. “Tusen” means “a thousand” and “skön” means “beautiful or pretty”, so together does tusensköna mean a thousand beauties? Interestingly, out of the 250 asters in the aster family, not one is native to Sweden although some have made a home here.

Edit June 14, 2017: I was wrong! This flower is more likely an Aneomone from the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family – see comments below. 

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In late May, while walking around the Hartford Reservoir in Connecticut, I saw these wild Irises growing by the edge of the water. I was pleased to find them in the wild, as I usually see their cultivated cousins in gardens. The name “Iris” in Greek means “rainbow”, referring to the flowers many colors.

Blue Flag, West Hartford, CT in late May

Found in May through July in marshes and wet meadows, the Blue Flag grows 2 to 3 feet tall and its showy blue petals wave like a flag with white and yellow and deep purple veins.

Blue Flag, West Hartford, CT in late May

I enjoyed the description of this wildflower in “Wild Flowers Worth Knowing”, a book that was written in the early 1900’s and now available online. Read the section on the Blue Flag here, especially the description of how the veins and petal formation guide bees to the nectar, leading to pollination. Also, the name fleur-de-lis isn’t very often used for this flower, but this hundred-year-old book lists it as a name and describes the origin of the name.  “The fleur-de-lys, which is the flower of chivalry,” says Ruskin, “has a sword for its leaf and a lily for its heart.”

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This small flower has an appropriate name: it looks like grass until you notice the little blue flowers, like eyes. There are 9 species of blue-eyed grasses in the Northeast United States – this one is Sisyrinchium montanum. This species has no stems branched and broader leaves (1/3 in.)  whereas other species have much thinner leaves and/or have some stems branched. They can vary from 4 to 24 inches high and grow in meadows and on shores. These species may cross with each other, though, so this might be a mix of a few (such as S. angustifolium).

Blue-Eyed Grass, West Hartford, CT in May

All blue-eyed grasses are stiff and grass-like with 6 petals, each with a small point at the end. It struck me how beautiful the yellow center was contrasted against the blue. I love flowers like this – ones that you might miss if you walk too quickly but once you take the time to really observe its careful details, it is just as beautiful as the showy plants you can buy in the store.

Blue-Eyed Grass, West Hartford, CT in May

I spotted this flower while walking around the Hartford Reservoir in Connecticut in late May.

Blue-Eyed Grass, West Hartford, CT in May

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