Monday, January 25, 2016

botanizing in bed

This is a post about my duvet-cover. I was going to illustrate it with a Tracey Emin-style photo of my bed, complete with crumpled tissues (residue of last week's cold)  but yesterday I saw the same cover on display in the Ikea showroom and realized the lighting was much better there.

The duvet-cover is called "Strandkrypa", one of those delightful names that Ikea use as they gradually commoditize the entire Swedish dictionary. [One slightly annoying consequence being that when you enter a Swedish plant name into Google and search for images, you're likely to end up with a load of pictures of mattress protectors or kitchen chairs...]

 Strandkrypa means Sea-milkwort (Glaux maritima), a common coastal plant in Britain (though I've never noticed it myself), a less common one in Sweden. Obviously the name has a certain relevance to the design, though Strandkrypa isn't one of the species illustrated.

My sleepy entertainment, when waking late on a Saturday morning, has been idly wondering about the source of these botanical drawings and what I might be able to infer about their date and locale from the species, which are named in italic Latin (the species-name, as well as the genus-name, being capitalized). This idly nerdy post is the eventual upshot.

The twelve species were evidently chosen by the designer for match of colour: the flowers are either yellow or pinky-white or both. They are:

Samolus valerandi  (Brookweed). A somewhat elusive plant. Quite rare in Sweden, on Baltic coasts. A bit more frequent around coasts and fens in the UK, though  I've only seen it once, at Kenfig Burrows near Cardiff. It's rather a surprise to look at the distribution map:  though distribution is near-circumpolar (and in the southern hemisphere, too) it's possibly more common on the coasts of N. Europe than anywhere else. Apparently there are a dozen other Samolus species worldwide, but all much more local.
Lysimachia vulgaris (Yellow Loosestrife)
Asperula odorata (Woodruff, now named Galium odoratum)
Saxifraga hirculus (Marsh Saxifrage). Rare in the UK (North Pennines, Scotland). Rare (much reduced) in southern Sweden. Less rare in northern Sweden (Härjedalen, Tornedalen), Denmark and Finland.
Matricaria chamomilla (Scented Mayweed, now named Matricaria recutita).  I've now discovered that this is also known as "German Chamomile" (whereas Chamaemelum nobile, or Chamomile, as the UK Field Guides name it, is also known as "Roman Chamomile"). Both species are sources for the herbal product "Chamomile", but predominantly the former. So most Chamomile Tea is, in fact, Scented Mayweed tea. See, I told you this would be interesting!
Bellis perennis (Daisy)
Ranunculus sceleratus (Celery-leaved Buttercup). Common in most of UK (except high ground of north and west) and in southern and central Sweden.
Linum catharticum (Fairy Flax)
Oxalis acetosella (Wood-sorrel)
Hypericum pulchrum (Slender St John's-wort). Definitively a W. European species. Extremely local in W. Sweden (Bohuslän, Halland). Fairly common in dry heathy places throughout the UK, though I've only ever seen it once (in Fore Wood, Crowhurst, East Sussex).
Carum carvi (Caraway). Only a scattered introduction in the UK, but a common native in Sweden and Central-Eastern Europe (In Sweden it's called Kummin). Tends to confirm my hunch that these drawings came from a Swedish Flora.
Cardamine palustris (Cuckooflower, now named Cardamine pratensis)

Time for bed!

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At 11:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just bought this duvet set, and like you have been musing about the Swedish word Strandkrype, and also wondering where the botanical drawings came from. I love the little drawings of various stages in a plant's growth, from bud to flower. I sit up in bed in the morning with my cup of tea, and gaze for ages at the cover. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. Thank you so much for listing the species and translating the product's name. I'm glad someone else loves it as much as I do!

At 9:26 am, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Thanks for the comment! Appreciated.

At 11:16 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am 'Anonymous' above, back again!

I've been looking up various botanists from the past on Google, and wonder if the duvet design could be taken from some of Linnaeus' drawings? I gather he was a Swede and the handwriting on the duvet does look quite old in style.
Do you know if there were other Swedish botanists who made similar drawings?
I do like to get to the bottom of things! (ex teacher) Now I'm retired, I can do so at my leisure.

Kind regards,


At 2:02 pm, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Hiya Elizabeth, thanks for making me look again. ..Was it Linnaeus? Apparently not... Then I discovered a couple of the images in C.A.M Lindman's great Nordens Flora (1901-1905), (somewhat shamefacedly, as I have several volumes of it on my own bookshelf), - but the daisy seemed wrong ... and then my agreeable research came to a sudden conclusion...

Because here are the full answers, courtesy of IKEA themselves!

So it turns out that all the images came from Lindman, except for the daisy, which was taken from William Baxter's British Phaenogamous Botany (1832-43 - see

Better reproductions of all Lindman's "chromolithographs" can be seen here:

Clearly the images have been adapted to produce the harmonious colour matching of the duvet
and maybe in other ways too. Fun!

At 4:34 pm, Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Well done Michael! Very clever of you to have discovered the sources of these beautiful images!

I'm reluctant to put my new duvet cover in the wash, as the replacement is a boring old one in grey and blue; not nearly as delightful.
Strangely, I thought the daisy drawing seemed a bit different to the others in some way.
I spent much of my childhood in the fifties pressing wild flowers and compiling endless albums of the results. I always was a bit of a nerd!

I have looked up your references for the Lindman chromolithographs, and will be spending a happy hour or two meandering through them this evening.

Thank you again!


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