Monday, June 28, 2010

moon daisy - cloud-grass

Leucanthemum vulgare is commonly called Oxeye Daisy in handbooks, but I was very impressed when I first heard the popular name Moon Daisy. Because, as the author of BioImages explains: "If well established it will provide a sea of flowers which stay open all night and look wonderful by moonlight!". This really is a very striking phenomenon: because the tip-tilted discs are whitish and seen all through the white nights of midsummer(and this behaviour is of course in marked contrast to the daisy (day's-eye), Bellis perennis, which closes its eyes as dusk approaches). You can admire the same thing in Sweden, where the plant is very common indeed, but its name is prästkrage (priest's collar) - well, there is not much night there.

At a plant sale in Frome, the lady described saxifrage to me as "cloud-grass". That's another folk-name I've never heard, and I thought it was a good one, nearly as good as moon daisy. She referred me to the shapes of the leaves (it was one of those whorled ones, like London Pride, arguably resembling a cumulus cloud), but I also thought of mountains and mists and growing among the clouds, home to so many saxifrages. I can't find any internet confirmation for this folk-name. Cloud-grass is however the common name for a decorative grass, Agrostis nebulosa, native to Iberia.

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