Sometimes The Dog and I wonder about the names of the flowers we find by the roadside. Google is usually happy to provide us with a picture that looks sufficiently like our photo for us to assume that we’ve found the right plant. We’ll get it’s Latin name – it’s usually a member of the rose family – and half a dozen colloquial names. It’s these, the plants real name, that causes us the most irritation. How on earth, we wonder, did it get to be called that?
Somewhere there’s an old Granny, seated in her rocking chair, with her knitting on her lap.
Sitting patiently next to her is the botanical equivalent of Alan Lomax.
“And what do country people call this Granny?” he asks.
“Oh, arh.” says Granny (speaking in the vernacular of course) trying not to be too irritated with him – anyone can see it’s just a white flower – but he did bring her a nice bunch of dianthus caryophyllus (common name: carnation) and she doesn’t want to be impolite and tell him to be off and annoy someone else.
“That be,” looking down at her knitting, “That be Stitchwort, that be.”
We won’t go into why the Cuckoo Flower got its name.