Thursday, September 06, 2007

Birthday Flowers

I've been championing the idea of a birthday flower, that is a flower that blossoms on your birthday. And here's the most recent picture of mine: the naked lady or autumn crocus.

These grow in the parkway a few blocks from my house. I love how they mysteriously appear and just as mysteriously disappear. I wanted to pick one but I know they are poisonous so I didn't (although I think maybe only the bulb is poisonous).

Linnaeus named the autumn crocus, colchicum, after Colchis, the island on which the poisoner and sorceress Medea lived. It has even more wonderful common names. I know it as a naked lady. It's a naked maiden in Germany (because it has no leaves, just a bare flower stalk). In France, they are called dog-killers and bare-bottoms. In England, Wilfrid Blunt (who gives this delightful list) mentions the names: upstarts, daggers, kite’s legs, naked boys and naked nannies. While the Arabs call them, he says, the lamps of the ghoul. That's my favorite. Do they look like the lamps of the ghoul? Maybe a little.

3 comments:

Tess said...

I love the idea of a birthday flower. Thank you for the idea.

kerrdeLune (cate) said...

Waverly, I really like the new template, and it was lovely to see barley here - it's one of my favorite grasses ever. BB, Cate

wanderwoman said...

I also love the idea of the birthday flower. Since mine is in July, my choices are unlimited, however. Hard to choose just one!