A couple of slashes of colour and some etymology

A little bit today about the derivation of plants names and an unusual life cycleGermander speedwell This is the germander speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys – I have always been fascinated with the derivation of the Latin names of plants – Veronica is after St Veronica who wiped the brow of Christ on his way to the cross through Jerusalem – apparently the cloth she used then bore the facial imprint of Jesus – the Latin helps again – Vera means true and icon means image. For the specific name chamai means on the ground and drys means oak – although the leaves only bear a superfical resemblance to oak leaves!


Lesser celandineThis is the lesser celandine Ranunculus ficariaRanunculus is a derivation of Rana – meaning a frog (maybe implying the plant lives in wet and dry places?) whilst ficaria comes from Ficus – the fig – the tubers of lesser celandine resemble small figs!

As interesting, is the role that lesser celandine plays in the life cycle of oil beetles – the larvae of the beetles (known as triungulins) mass on the flowers waiting for a solitary bee to arrive to pollinate the flower – the larvae then attach to the bees and are transported back to their nest where they then feast of the bee’s larvae before finally emerging as adults! See here for some pictures and more details and here for a picture of an oil beetle.

Nature is much more curious than the Da Vinci Code!

2 thoughts on “A couple of slashes of colour and some etymology

  1. Hi Adrian, lesser celendine has now moved to a new genus and been named Ficaria verna. DNA shows it is not so closely related to Ranunculus, and lesser celendine has only 3 sepals (Ranunculus has 5). There are 5 sub-species of Ficaria, 2 are native, 3 are garden escapes!

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