Tuesday, September 23, 2014

scraps of a journey

Glebionis segetum in farmland

Corn Marigold (Glebionis segetum), a native of the E. Mediterranean, long since spread to arable land in the rest of Europe and historically once a serious weed;  apparently there are medieval Scottish laws about the farmer's duty to eradicate it.

I found this group a few days ago in farmland near Abbeville (Normandy) and, since they were reasonably far away from any dwelling, I supposed they might be - not native, of course, but - at least a "natural" occurrence of a genuine weed going about its weedy business. It's often difficult to be sure, because these pretty flowers are now often included in wild-flower-meadow seed-mixes and deliberately introduced into urban planting schemes; doubtless the origin of the stray plants I see in Swindon. Meanwhile, Corn Marigold had become quite local in its former arable haunts; some people link this to the modern practice of liming soil to lower its acidity.

Glebionis segetum, detail of flower

Remnants of "Frutas de Aragon", traditional sweetmeat of candied fruit wrapped in dark chocolate from Zaragoza, and also of St Michel Roudor biscuits - simple but very delicious.

Aragon is a varied county and there did not seem much possibility of growing fruit in the arid tablelands just off the AP-2 near Pina de Ebro.

Still, there is one activity that the terrain does suit and that is warfare. We found this lonely memorial nearby:

The partly legible inscription says:

En memoria de 29 vecinos de
Gelsa vilmente asesinados por
los enemigos de ----- y de la -- -
--en este mismo lugar-----
---dia -5 de octubre de 1936
 los familiares suplican
 una oración por sus almas

(In memory of 29 inhabitants of Gelsa vilely murdered by the enemies of ... and of the ....  in this self-same spot ... the fifth day of October 1936 ... the families beg a prayer for their souls.)

Evidently a pious memorial of an atrocity by the Reds. Later, in 1938-39, similar acts were carried out by the winning side.

Butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus) growing in Sweet Chestnut coppice at Fenioux (Deux-Sèvres). An odd genus; both the small flower and the large berry seem to arise from the centre of the leaf (these apparent leaves are actually flattened stems called cladodes).

Grapevine (Vitis vinifera) at Fenioux (Deux-Sèvres)

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