Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family: Snapdragon’ Category

Recently I visited Gothenburg, Sweden. The weather was unusually nice for this time of year! We saw a lot of spring flowers there, this one really stood out as quite different from the rest.

I came across this funny looking pink flower growing in the shade under a tree, seemingly straight out of the dead leaves there. It was so odd looking because it didn’t have any green around it and I thought I was seeing things. This is a toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) or in Swedish, Vätteros. It is a member of the figwort or snapdragon family and grows April – May in woods or hedges. It is a parasite! It grows on roots, usually on Hazel. The flowers are 2-lipped and a pinkish-purple color. It looks like it doesn’t have leaves, but it does have leaves, they are just white. It is very cool to come across one of the few plants that does not require chlorophyl.

Toothwort or Vätteros, Gothenburg, Sweden

Toothwort or Vätteros, Gothenburg, Sweden

Where does it get its name? ‘Vätte’ in Swedish means goblin, and this goblin-rose gets its name because goblins spend most of their lives underground. The English name for it, toothwort, is not as interesting. ‘Wort’ is an old English name for plant, and ‘tooth’ refers to the root, which looks a bit like a bunch of teeth (see here). There are other flowers which are also called toothwort, so there can be confusion with the name. Let’s just call it goblin rose!

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »