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Better Late

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

The Celandine (Lesser to be exact) is supposed to show up on February 21st. Here we are – well it was the 30th actually, but the train shunted the flower along a day. So, the 30th of March and this is the first one we’ve seen. We’ve been on the lookout for them too! The name is supposed to be from the Greek chelidon – a swallow, as the Greater Celandine (not related in any way except in the name) comes into flower when the birds arrive and dies out when they leave. So, as that’s nothing to do with us, we can ignore all that. More relevant is the Latin name which, having bored you enough with Greek, I won’t trouble you with, other than to say that it is made up of frogs and figs. The idea being that the Lesser Celandine is a member of the buttercup family and buttercups like to grow on marshy ground where there are frogs. The frogs of course, have figs for breakfast every day.

Celandines are a little poisonous but, ‘we’re ‘ard, us’, and the young leaves in Spring are a good source of  . . you guessed it, vitamin C. It isn’t really that serious about being poisonous because the toxin, which is unpronounceable, can be mitigated by heating or drying – during which it turns into something else, equally unpronounceable, but which isn’t toxic at all. Such a thoughtful plant.

Wordsworth claimed it as his favourite flower and wrote loads (well, three actually) of poems about it. As you read them you can’t help but see how fond he was of this small flower.

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