Friday, August 23, 2013

Mediterranean sea carrot

Today's random pix were taken on the Costa Blanca coast in June. This is some sort of wild carrot. Since there is only one member of the genus that is native to Europe, Daucus carota,  I'll assume this is one of its many variants, which include the Wild and Sea Carrots of the UK as well as the cultivated carrot, which is thought to derive from one or more Mediterranean varieties.

Look at the curious deep-red flower in the middle of the umbel. This single flower has a complete umbellule to itself (the central terminal one), as well explained by Agnes Arber.

I always imagine that this deep-red flower is designed to mimic a visiting insect and thus to persuade other insects that this is a good place to visit.

Similar to those stooge customers that cafes employ to nurse a long coffee and lure passers-by into walking in. (Nobody wants to be first into an empty cafe. They anticipate the irritable stupor of the staff, the fake over-attentiveness, the deadly silence while trying to choose a cake, and so on.)

I don't know if this stooge-customer thing is a job that really does exist but I feel Laura and I could be well fitted for it because we always look very happy and interesting when we're in a cafe.

According to Wikipedia the plant is known as "Queen Anne's Lace" in N. America and the red flower represents a drop of blood shed by the queen when she pricked her finger while sewing. That may be so, but it doesn't explain why "Queen Anne's Lace" is a common name for Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) in th UK. .

 The bushy mass in the background (below) is an amazing and unique kind of grass, very common in SE Spain,  called Albardine (Lygeum spartum)in which the few fluffy spikelets are contained within a spathe-like bract.

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At 9:34 am, Blogger Vincent said...

The single red flower is extraordinary, even more so than the vari-coloured blossoms of the horse-chestnut, the explanations of which I have never believed, and one day intend to refute.

Did you see the single red flower repeated in other umbels? I'm surprised you didn't offer a Latin name.

I offered to be a stooge customer in a café near the bus station just before it reopened under new management: not in those words, but more in the form of hints. My ideas fell on deaf ears.

I liked the new decor they put in, and the fact that they retained the "On the buses" theme (e.g. picture of "Blakey" Blake on the fascia). I warned the new proprietor against continuing the chalk-board on the pavement which offered discounts for "O.A.P’s" on Fridays. She ignored my advice. Needless to say, the place soon closed down. No self-respecting OAP would go in on a Friday, and no frugal OAP would go in on any other day.

I qualified on both counts and wouldn't be seen dead in the place. On rare occasions, K & I take refuge in a dark corner of Starbucks till the rain eases up, and experience a special sense of timelessness. But Starbucks never seem to need stooge customers.

Come to think of it, most umbelliferous plants don't seem to require fake stooge customers either.

Long may life's mysteries remain unsolved.

At 11:16 pm, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

I agree with that. Yes, the central flower is usually dark red or almost black. You can see the same thing on the common wild carrot in this country, though it is rarely as noticeable as on this specimen. It seems they all belong to the same species, Daucus carota, and so does the cultivated carrot with swollen taproot.


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