Silly Lovers

Heading South along the lane past the house takes you immediately into deep shade. The verges aren’t so verdant as in the other direction, but there are plants none-the-less.

This is Woodruff (or Sweet Woodruff):

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Several Arum Lilies are flowering on the margins of the track.

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The entry on this plant in my wildflower guide is so interesting that it seems worth quoting it in full:

Lords and Ladies Arum maculatum

In the Middle Ages, this unusually shaped flower was connected with the act of making love. Its various local names – such as ‘sweethearts’, ‘silly lovers’ and ‘Adam and Eve’ – often had a sexual connotation. In the 16th century it was also known as cuckoo pintle, which was later abbreviated to cuckoo pint. ‘Cuckoo’ probably referred to the supposedly lustful male cuckoo, although some authorities think it came from ‘cuckold’.

The flowers are contained in a broad, sheathing hood, called the spathe. Inside there is a club-like structure, the spadix. It gives off a smell of decay which, together with its slight heat, attract flies. The insects crawl down inside the spathe and are trapped by the backward pointing hairs on the spadix. They then crawl around pollinating the flowers, at the same time picking up pollen from the flowers, until they die, or else escape when the spadix withers after pollination.

The roots of lords and ladies were gathered for their high starch content, and in Elizabethan time this was used for stiffening the high, pleated, linen ruffs that were then fashionable. The poisonous berries can be fatal if eaten by children.

Field Guide to The Wildflowers Of Britain

Can’t see what everybody is getting all hot under the collar about, can you?

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Silly Lovers

3 thoughts on “Silly Lovers

  1. beatingthebounds says:

    Yes – now that I’ve also read about the folklore of Hawthorn and Early Purple Orchids too (see my latest post), I’m wondering whether the fact that they all flower at this time of year is significant?

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