Tuesday, 9 June 2009

ABC Wednesday - U

U is for Umbelliferae

Umbellifers, so called because the whole head looks like a flat topped umbrella. There are hundreds of different types in the wild and in our gardens. Angelica, Astrantias, Carrots, Fennel and Parsley, all are of this family.

The froth of Cow Parsley, sometimes known as Gypsy's Umbrella, in our country lanes shouts - watch out her comes summer. Other species prefer damper, watery areas.
The Hawthorn drips with blossom and Summer has announced her arrival. Its white flower confetti all over the land.
What wonderful names our Umbellifer have been given. Sweet Cicely, which when crushed, is aromatic, a sort of sweet delicate aniseed. Wild Celery from which the crisp, sweet stalks of our table celery were evolved by gardeners long ago, although in its wild state apparently it is, coarse, acrid and probably poisonous. Not something you would want to use as crudites. Whorled Caraway, Shepherd's Needle, Moon Carrot, Fool's Parsley, Slender Hare's Ear. Then there is Pignut whose root may be eaten raw, but best when boiled or roasted like a chestnut. Insects love Umbellifers for their sugary sweetness
but beware, for these plants have also their dark side. One of their number is Hemlock, a favourite poison of witches and the ancient Greeks. This was the potion the philosopher Socrates imbibed. RIP Socrates. Hemlock can be mistaken for a similar culinary plant if the red blotches on its stem are not noticed, and then its other name of dead man's fingers may become all too true.

But lets listen to Obi One Kenobi and turn to the light and celebrate these exuberant plants as they inhabit the margins, the lanes, damp grassy places, marshes, seaside, the still and flowing water of this years summer. I'll finish with a picture of one sharing the canal side with an iris, just because I love yellow as well.

Go to ABC Wednesday and you can see more U

7 comments:

photowannabe said...

Terrific choice for the letter U. I have now learned a new word...umbillifer...

Carol said...

An interesting post...I enjoyed reading about all these plants...and they are very pretty...your mountain/hillside shot is beautiful...

Hildred and Charles said...

A lovely posting, and such a good choice for U. It is amazing when you count up the members of the umbillifer family, and they are so varied. Just like human families, I guess...

Jay said...

Good one! I thought of umbelliferae, but it didn't fit with my post, so I'm glad to see someone else doing it!

Marie Reed said...

Way to get a Star Wars reference in there! Hooray!

Grace and Bradley said...

Very interesting information of a group very beautiful plants. Thanks for sharing.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh, I just love your u! Very beautiful : )

Go see Up! You will LOVE it!