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Archive for the ‘Color: Yellow’ Category

Last week we came across many patches of this yellow flower growing along the water’s edge. They have distinct bright flowers and big green heart-shaped leaves. They looked so familiar, when I came home I realized they are called Marsh Marigold which also grows in New England.

Kabbleka, Stockholm, May

Kabbleka, Stockholm, May

In Swedish, this flower is called kabbleka (latin name: Caltha palustris). It grows between April to June, sometimes in July. The name first was noted in the 1630’s. According to ‘Blommor i Sverige’ by Janzon and Mossberg, the flower may be called kabbleka because it is close to ‘clump’, due to its clump of stalks and roots. Another explanation could be a corruption of the name ‘kalvleka’ (meaning ‘calf play’). This is a close to the English name ‘cow slip’, another name for marsh marigold.

Kabbleka (Marsh Marigold), Stockholm, Sweden

Kabbleka (Marsh Marigold), Stockholm, Sweden

Other names are klådblomster and skabbrosor due to the flower’s ability to both cause and cure klåd (itching) and skabb (scabies).

I don’t know about that, all I know is this flower brightened up our walk and is another flower Sweden has in common with New England!

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In late September last year, I visited Newport, Rhode Island. The weather was beautiful – the sun was strong, the sky was clear and blue, and it was a perfect chance to walk along the cliff walk where the mansions look over the ocean.

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

I noticed this bright yellow flower, which I was sure was a goldenrod, growing from the rocks. I was surprised to see a goldenrod by the ocean, since I’ve mainly seen them in sandy waste areas by the side of the road. This goldenrod was more plush than its relatives, with healthy leaves and full flower heads.

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

Its leaves are toothless and parallel-veined. It sometimes hybridizes with the Rough Stemmed goldenrod and can be found along the coasts near salt marshes, dunes and beaches. This one is a showy one, but on New York shores and south to Florida, they might not have such a plume-like head. There are many goldenrods in New England, but the key aspects to look for to tell them apart are the silhouette and whether the leaves are feather-veined or parallel-veined. Something new I learned while looking up this flower is that underneath the plant are  rhizomes – the plants close in proximity to each other all may come from the same original plant and may actually be clones.

Goldenrods signal the end of the summer. It was nice to see this flower out in late September – it can bloom through November in some parts – on a day when it felt like summer was going strong.

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

Seaside goldenrod, Rhode Island in September

I caught a bee enjoying the goldenrod nectar. Goldenrods are insect-pollinated – the bright yellow attracts the bugs and the sticky pollen sticks to their legs so it gets passed around. If you are interested in finding insects, goldenrods are a good place to start! But insects aren’t the only ones who have enjoyed consuming this plant. The leaves are edible and have been used for some healing remedies (the Latin name for goldenrod Solidago, which means to make whole, coming from its medicinal use in healing wounds). Apparently they also contain rubber, which was once used to make tires!

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The cowslip or gullviva in Swedish is well known by many here in Sweden. I found it blooming in the grassy area between two buildings in Stockholm in May, all of the golden flowers pointing down hill towards the sun. They say this flower’s English name was given to it because it was likely to see it growing in cow dung or in slippery and boggy land.

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Peering into the flower, you can see 5 orange-red spots. But mostly these flowers keep their heads down, all bunched at the top of a 10 to 25 cm hairy stem, dangling above a mass of wrinkly, downy, egg-shaped leaves.

cowslip2

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

The cowslip has 2 kinds of flowers – ones on short stalks and ones on taller stalks. The short flowers must cross-fertilize with the tall ones for a good seed set (self-fertilization won’t lead to good offspring).

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

Cowslip (Gullviva), Stockholm, Sweden in May

A few random facts (from Blommor i Sverige by Janzon and Mossberg):

– Gullviva is the official flower of the Swedish province Närke

– It has been used as a stimulant, cosmetic and to cure sicknesses.

– You can eat the leaves like spinach or kale.

– The flowers and their nectar were once used for making wine.

– Gullviva was once called Saint Peter’s Keys based on the story that St. Peter dropped his keys to heaven and lost them. The angel who went to find them was helped by the flower that grew up around where the keys were dropped. This flower may look a little like a golden set of keys.

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Here in Sweden it appears that the spring flowers have (finally!) decided to wake up. As usual, the winter has been sticking around quite late this far north. But the little dots of color popping up here and there make up for the wait.

coltsfoot2

Crocuses have started to bloom and snowdrops have arrived as well. One flower I came across just last week is a new one for my early spring collection. The name in English is Coltsfoot, in Swedish it is quite similar – Hästhov (horse hoof). Its Latin name is Tussilago farfara. Tussilago means ‘cough suppressant’ (recognize ‘tussis’ from pertussis? it means cough), due to the plant’s medicinal uses. The name in Swedish and in English could be due to fact that the leaves (not shown here) are in the shape of a horse’s hoof. Another explanation could be that hästhov is a corruption of hosthäva, which means ‘cough enhancer’ (reference).

Coltsfoot (Hästhov), Stockholm, Sweden in April

Coltsfoot (Hästhov), Stockholm, Sweden in April

At first you might think these flowers are dandelions, but a closer inspection reveals them to be very different. One clue that they are not dandelions is that they appear earlier in the year. Second clue is their leaves – there are no leaves when the flower is blooming – the leaves appear later – and when they do appear, they are very different in shape. Lastly, the stalk of the Coltsfoot is always hollow and leafless. In the above photo you can see the reddish scales. Coltsfoot grows in ditches and in waste ground, often damp areas near water. I found these flowers on an untended piece of land that was not far from the sea North of Stockholm. Coltsfoot blooms from March until May in Southern and Central Sweden (up to Jämtland). In the U.S., this flower can be found South to Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and flowers appear March through June.

Uses: cough suppressant/cough drops/cough syrup (boil fresh leaves and add sugar to the extract), tea (dried leaves), seasoning (dried burned leaves), poison (toxic to the liver, especially in children, due to alkaloids), a tobacco substitute (the leaves can be smoked, used in World War I), a confectionary product (Coltsfoot Rock, rock candy from the U.K. flavored with the coltfoot leaves), and  fermented wine. Quite a range of uses! (reference: Peterson’s Edible Wild Plants).

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This sturdy weed has been growing along the path on my way to work – first seen in June but is still growing now at the end of July. I identified it as the rough-fruited cinquefoil, a member of the Rose family and introduced from Europe. The Latin name is Potentilla recta, “recta” meaning “erect”, to distinguish it from the common cinquefoil, which has prostrate stems. “Cinquefoil” has the word “cinque” in it, which in French means 5 because the plant has radially 5-parted leaves.

Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil, Boston, MA in June

The flowers are pale yellow in a flat terminal cluster and large (1/2-1 inch). The plant is hairy, very leafy and many-branched. You can see that it’s growing in a gravel-ly, sandy place by the road, and for some reason the lawn-mowers missed it so I can enjoy it every day on my way to and from work!

Rough-Fruited Cinquefoil, Boston, MA in June

 

 

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I saw this interesting wildflower in a field in Western Massachusetts in June. At first, it blended in with the grass around it, but getting closer you can see the yellow flowers peaking out from the circular pods. The flowers are in the upper leave axils, the leaves grow in pairs, and the plant grows to between 8 and 20 inches tall. Native to this area, it is a member of the Snapdragon family.

Yellow Rattle, Western Massachusetts in June

The “flat bladder-like envelope” is formed from the calyx (joined sepals) around the base of the flower [ref: Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers]. This “envelope” becomes inflated when it has fruit. The flower gets its name because the seeds will rattle in the pod. The flower guide says the upper lip is often tinged with violet and the lower lip spotted, but the ones I found appeared to be all yellow.

Yellow Rattle, Western Massachusetts in June

I often get a lot of information from looking up the Latin name on Google (Rhinanthis crista-galli), but this is the first flower in a long time that didn’t have a wikipedia article listed. I did find it on wikipedia commons here with a list of different names in other languages. The Swedish name, Ängsskallra, means “meadow rattle”, and the other languages also call this flower a rattle. I really like old scientific drawings of flowers, here is one in Italian and here is one from 1913 with some more detailed description.

Yellow Rattle, Western Massachusetts in June

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In May, I made a quick trip to Copenhagen and spent an afternoon walking around the city. At Kastellet, some showy yellow flowers were growing wild in the grass which turned out to be wild tulips. In Danish, they are called Vild Tulipan, the latin name is Tulipa sylvestris. Sylva means forest, and refers to how the flower grows in forests and parks.

Wild Tulip, Copenhagen, Denmark in early May

The wild tulip has linear leaves that are grass-like with no prominent veins, grooves or ridges. The flowers are solitary on a leafless stalk and grow April through May in dry grassy and bare places in the Southern part of Northern Europe (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Channel Isles, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark).

Wild Tulip, Copenhagen, Denmark in early May

Here is drawing of the flower and its parts from 1885. A member of the lily family, this flower looked a little more droopy with spread out petals than cultivated ones. When I think of tulips, I think of the Netherlands. The wikepedia article on the history of the tulip (and of tulip mania) is quite thorough, if you are interested. The first bulb is believed to have been sent from the Ottoman Empire to Vienna in the mid-1550’s. By the late 1500’s, the Dutch were cultivating the tulip and it became very popular. I hope to go to the Netherlands when the tulips are in bloom to get some good pictures there one day!

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In late April, I went for a walk in the woods in the suburbs of Boston where I have found White Trillium blooming at this time of year. I came across the trillium again, which is always a thrill, and I also found a new flower that I can add to my buttercup collection. This flower is called the Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

Marsh Marigold, Massachusetts April 2012

Here are a few facts about this bright yellow flower:

  • Large flowers (1 to 1.5 inches) are made up of 5 to 9 “petals” (actually sepals)
  • Glossy leaves are roundish and heart-shaped
  • Thick stem is hollow and succulent
  • Grows to a height of 8 to 24 inches
  • Can be found near swamps and brooksides April through June

Marsh Marigold, April 2012 in Massachusets

It turns out this plant’s leaves are a traditional New England spring green from the days of the pilgrims! Here are a few ways to prepare this plant that I found in the Peterson Field Guide on Edible Wild Plants:

  • Collect the young leaves before the plant has finished blossoming. Cook them 20-30 minutes or in 2-3 changes of boiling water
  • Young flower buds can be used as capers. Boil them 10 minutes in 2 changes of water and pickle them in hot water. Do not drain juice that buds have been pickled in.
  • Do not eat raw – this plant has a poison that is only removed after cooking it. Do not handle for long – it can irritate the skin.

Also, this plant has several names, which are interesting (thank you wikipedia for a great section on etymology!):

  • in the UK it is also called Kingcup
  • in Latin, Caltha palustris – palustris comes from “of the marsh”, because of its habitat
  • in the U.S., another name is Cowslip, which is also the name of Primula veris.
  • Marigold comes from its use in churches at Easter time in Medieval times – for Mary Gold.

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I saw this flower in both Stockholm and in Massachusetts. It is quite unique; 2 yellow lips upward, 3 yellow lips downward, and a yellow spur that extends back. Its unique orange middle (a swollen corolla tube) is the egg in the middle of all the butter, which gives it the name “butter-and-eggs”.  It is also known as common toadflax (Latin:  Linaria vulgaris).  Toadflax comes from the corolla’s “mouth” looking like a toad’s mouth and the leaves look like those of Flax.  I found these in a field on the south shore of Massachusetts in early October.

Common Toadflax, Hingham, MA October 2011

Butter-and-eggs can be found in roadsides, waste places, dry fields from June through Oct in the North East U.S. and July through Sept in Sweden (throughout).  It is a member of the snapdragon family.  The flowers are in stalked spikes and its narrow leaves go up the stems.

I found the following flowers in a construction site in Stockholm on my way to work in August, still wet with rain.

Gulsporre, Stockholm, Sweden, July, 2011

In Swedish, this flower is called Gulsporre which means yellow spur.  I found it growing in an area that had been torn up for construction of a road in late July.

Gulsporre, Stockholm, Sweden July, 2011

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Daffodils appear around this time every year, giving them their name in some languages which translates into Easter Lilly (Swedish: påsklilja).  The French call this flower “jonquille”, which comes from the Latin name for one species, Narcissus jonquilla. The daffodil is also called “narcissus” after the Greek myth about Narcissus, a young man who became so obsessed with his own reflection in the water that he fell in and drowned.  The daffodil grew from the spot where he died.

The English name, “daffodil” doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with these other names, although Wikipedia does have a good possible explanation.  The name is arrived from an earlier name, “affodell” which came from “asphodel”. Perhaps the Dutch article, “de” was added to “affodell” and  we are left with “de affodil” = “daffodil”.

Daffodils grow in the wild here in Massachusetts, but it appears that they are not true wild flowers.  They aren’t in any of my North America Wildflowers books!  They are originally from Europe, North Africa and Asia.  They are so unique and striking, with a kind of trumpet-like corona and 6 petal-like leaves as a back drop.  There have been many different species cultivated, the coloring varies a lot.  The ones I came across on the Fens this week were all yellow.

Daffodil (Narcissus), Boston, April 2011

The daffodil is a member of the Amaryllis family, along with snowdrops.  This family of plants are bulbed with narrow grasslike leaves and showy 6-parted often lily-like flowers.  They are not lilies because their “petals” are attached to or part of the seed receptacle (Peterson’s Field Guide to Wildflowers).

Daffodils have been  around for a long time, wow-ing their admirers and even inspiring poetry.  Here is William Wordsworth’s poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” about this beautiful flower in 1804.

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

Daffodil (Narcissus), Boston, April 2011

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