Thursday, March 06, 2014

pulmonaria begins

Pulmonaria officinalis

Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), just coming into flower. I saw this one, just coming into flower on 5 March 2013, in a young woodland shelter belt between road and housing in West Swindon.

Pulmonaria is good for chest ailments, thus proving the doctrine of signatures to be not so silly after all. But probably the resemblance of the spotted leaves to diseased lungs was only noticed when the medicinal properties were already known. If Pulmonaria had been good for heartburn or urinary infections then we'd see that, instead.  NB I'd like to have a definite literary source for this resemblance. I'm quite suspicious about it, and it isn't in William Coles Art of Simpling.

P. officinalis is native to central Europe, and is a frequent non-native plant almost throughout the UK. In Sweden it's much rarer and  only seen in the extreme south. On the other hand P. obscura (unspotted leaves) is native and fairly common in central Sweden. (This latter is the plant known in Sweden as Lungört; P. officinalis is known as Fläcklungört.) P. obscura is also known (though incredibly rare) in Suffolk,  - first recorded 1842, but very likely native: all records are on ancient woodland and nobody bothers to grow P. obscura in gardens.

Pulmonaria officinalis, early flowers

Pulmonaria officinalis. Frome, 31 March 2021.

Lungwort is a great and easy garden plant. It grows stolidly in awkward shady spots. In March its flowers, opening pink and then turning blue, are as cheering to us as to the early bumble bees.

Pulmonaria officinalis. Frome, 31 March 2021.

Pulmonaria officinalis. Frome, 31 March 2021.



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