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Silverweed

Silverweed

There isn’t much around to photograph at the moment and it’s getting harder and harder to keep up the post-a-day habit. It was at the beginning of October last year, after a three week blank spot, that I set myself the target of posting every day for a year. We’ve done all right so far – but I am looking forward to being able to cut down to once a week or so, as I have loads of other things I want to be able to get on with.

The patch of Silverweed has bowed to peer pressure and turned from shiny silver to boring old green but it does still have a few flowers to relieve the paucity of picture possibilities, so we have some Silverweed complete with tiny insects today.

I’ve talked about Silverweed before, so I asked Google if he could find us something new to chat about. He pointed out that there was an unsettling character in Watership Down call Silverweed. Now, I must say here that Watership Down is not a story that I’ve read fully. I’ve tried once or twice but I just can’t stick with it. You know how it is sometimes. I do realise that I’m in the minority here. It’s not just Watership Down either, there are several other, very popular, stories that I have the same problem with. It’s not just about anthropomorphism, more that, because  the authors have gone out of their way to avoid anthropomorphism they end up with something that winds my cynicism selector all the way round.

There’s nothing wrong with anthropomorphism. It is after all, a very ancient technique. Ask Aesop.

Save the World

Silverweed

Silverweed

We went for a slow amble this morning – The Dog is still limping a little, but she needs her fresh air. We pottered down to the beck, pretty much as we always do, actually. On the way we noticed that the Silverweed was in flower. Our patch of Silverweed grows between two clumps of Buttercups, so we had to be careful that we were looking at Silverweed flowers, not Buttercups. The Dog became bored with all this rooting round in the vegetation, trying to trace the flower stalk back to its parent plant, and sat down in the middle of the road to wait.

The French name for the plant is Richette, this roughly translates as, “wealthy with gold and silver,” – it’s on the Internet, so it must be true. This is a reference to the gold of the flowers and the silver of the leaves. The leaves are silver because they are covered with fine hairs that reflect the light. Last year, I noticed that by the end of the growing season, the leaves had lost their silvery sheen and had become a boring green colour.

But it’s the roots that saved the world. In Ireland, during the infamous Famine and Clearances of the 1840s, many of the disinherited starving were able to eke out their existence by eating the Silverweed roots. In Scotland too it has saved many lives in time of hardship and in the Outer Hebrides it is known as The Poor Man’s Potato.

In Celtic folk lore it is called “The Seventh Bread” – with the obvious inference that when things were hard it would give you one last resource.

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