Monday, August 08, 2011

more flowers from Jämtland

.. but not from the mountains this time.

Cirsium heterophyllum (Brudborste - Melancholy Thistle)

From long rhizomes seventeen long rods
flare slowly in the warm, damp air; but not for us.

I saw them ―. pleading in colour like the mouths
of baby birds, or a mouth flushed for a kiss.

(F O T O 18)

Hypochaeris maculata (Slåtterfibbla - Spotted Cat's-ear). I included this photo because it was so miraculously in focus, enough to show the three tiny beetles living in the middle of the flower. But don't be deceived by the greenery beneath; that's a young rowan, not part of this plant.

Lilium martagon (Krollilja - Turk's-cap Lily). We were very excited when we happened on this plant on a roadside in the endless forest east of Östersund, several kilometers from any dwelling. However, it's a reasonably common introduction (native to Central Europe and Asia), and is hardy even in the far north of Sweden.

Cirsium arvense (Åkertistel - Creeping Thistle). A species that looks very different in Norrland from the way it looks in the south of England: the leaves are less stiff and wavy, the spines much less fierce (detail below). And hence (to me at least) the plant arouses none of its habitual connotations: neglected wasteland, scruffiness, overgrazed pasture, etc. Here it makes neat (though still extensive) stands where roadsides border fields.

Noon: the greygreen globes bristle with mauve;
the bees come, thousands browsing, on every roadside

the sugar of summer grows tautly, walls of it
shimmer across the valley where a seed strayed.

(F O T O 88)

But the plant that I supposed was hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), despite its small and rather greenish flowers, is really a different species, Heracleum sibiricum (Björnfloka). It's a nice plant, but to be honest it lacks some of the drama of H. sphondylium, partly because it lacks the large petals around the edge of the umbels. (Hogweed is the UK wild flower that most regularly amazes me.)

[The plant that my Swedish Flora calls H. sibiricum sounds like it might be identical with Stace's H. sphondylium ssp. sibiricum, which grows in NE Norfolk.]

Hypericum maculatum (Fyrkantig johannesört - Imperforate St John's-wort). Apparently subsp. maculatum, though I didn't know the details to check at the time. This is the "other" St John's-wort, differentiated from H. perforatum by black spots on the surface (not edges) of the petals, four (not two) stem-ridges, and usually no translucent dots on the leaves - features variously referred to by the names above. Also blunt sepals. It prefers damper (and non-calcareous) locations. (Also common in much of the UK, especially Wales, but more local than H. perforatum.)


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