Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016 - Wildflowers 'K'

My theme this year is wild flowers. Most of us will be aware of the flowers that grow in our gardens but what surprises me is how few wild flowers that I know.

I pass them every day but rarely look at them. Well this year will be different - even if many of them may fall under the letter 'X' for unknown.

'K' - Kingcup, Knapweed

In Ireland bunches of the first of my flowers were hung over doors on May Day to protect cattle from witches and fairies. Not bad for what may be one of the longest established native plants in Britain, one which would have thrived in the melt waters of the ice age. One of the buttercup family it grows in marshy places, damp meadows and riversides.

Kingcup or Marsh Marigold
It's a plant that is known by a plethora of names - Mollyblobs, Horse Blob, Gollins and the Publican; in Scotland it's the water gowan or water gowland. But I've always known it as the Kingcup.

The large, golden, cup-shaped flowers can hardly be missed.

While the whole plant is poisonous its buds were once used as a substitute for capers.

My second flower resembles a thistle without prickles.

Common Knapweed
There is a marvellous story about this plant.

If a woman puts its open florets inside her blouse and any open into the flower, then a lover will come her way.

Its knob-like heads are sometimes called hard-heads. Knap is another name for knob.

Medicinal uses include relieving sore throats and healing wounds and scabs.

There is no doubt that knapweed is a favourite with bees and butterflies.

Peacock butterfly on knapweed
  • Kingcup or Marsh Marigold - 14 April 2009, ex, by Keith Edkins in Byron's Pool Nature reserve - CC BY-SA 2.0 generic
  • Kingcups - 20 May 2008, ex, by M J Richardson - CC BY-SA 2.0 generic
  • Common Knapweed - 3 July 2013, by Natalie S - CC BY-SA 4.0


Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

Love both the Kingcup and the Knapweed and the Peacock Butterfly is gorgeous. Thank you for telling me about them.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - my sort of history here - thank you!! I think I need to find some Common Knapweed?! Fascinating the Kingcup flourished as far back as the melt waters of glaciation ...

Two wonderful reminders of our wild flowers and their lore .. cheers Hilary

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

What a wild looking flutterby

Anonymous said...

Another interesting post, Bob. I have Kingcup for my letter K. I didn't know all those names for it, just marsh marigold. @suesconsideredt from Sue’s Trifles
and Sue’s words and pictures

Jo said...

What interested me there, the buds were used like capers and yet the whole plant is poisonous. Fascinating plant particularly because it has been around so long. The Knapweed is such a pretty colour too. It does look like a thistle.

Wendy said...

These 2 are so interesting. I can see why bees and butterflies would love the knapweed - who can resist a purple flower?

Alice Gerard said...

What beautiful flowers. Love the marsh marigold, the knapweed, and that beautiful butterfly... flutterby. So nice to have a plant that looks like a thistle without all of those annoying thorns. I have spent much time removing thistle from gardens. They are very healthy weeds!

Guilie Castillo said...

These are gorgeous, Bob! I knew the Kingcup (or one that looks very much like it...), but not the knapweed. I'd read the name somewhere, and never knew what the actual plant looked like. What a cool legend about it predicting lovers :)

Loving your A2Z!
Guilie @ Life In Dogs (and member of co-host Damyanti's team, D's Company )

Trisha Faye said...

What delightful flowers! I don't think I've ever heard of these in the US. If they're here, I've missed them somehow. Thank you for sharing these beautiful wildflowers with us.
Trisha Faye

Joanne said...

What about knotweed? I went on a guided walk to look for edible plants last fall and was told that you can eat knotweed shoots and that they taste like rhubarb.
Ever tried it?
Happy A to Zing

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Yay, something new to use against Faeries and witches for my writing. Thank you :-) Good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge.