Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Buttercup?!!!

 I had never heard of this plant until a year ago when Jay Wright and I each spotted it in some front yards in our neighborhood.  It took a little doing to identify it, being a cultivar that doesn't appear in our wildflower field guides.  We could have asked the owners, I suppose, since they probably bought it in a nursery.  At any rate, finally ID'd it as Nigella damascena.  It is known by many common names such as...
 Love in a Mist, Devil in the Bush, Ragged Lady, and just plain Nigella.  There are many cultivated varieties which have their own popular names.  Just like with humans, there's this ambivalence - love, devil, hmmm.  Which is it?
 The most amazing discovery for me was to find it's in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.
The variety of flower shapes and colors in that family is remarkable.  The local example that's now blooming in the woods around Quincy is the Red Larkspur, Delphinium nudicaule.  Soon to follow will be the Crimson Columbine, then the Monkshood, among others.

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