No, this post isn’t about that favourite pair of white undies that have been washed so often that the elastane has gone yellow. It is about the plants in the garden that burst forth with yellow blooms in the spring.
We learnt in the Blue Bloomers series that the flavonoid anthocyanidin, delphinidin was the blue pigment. However with yellow petals it is the carotenoid compounds that create the yellow appearance. Well, that’s enough Latin for one day.
First off the block is the lesser celandine; the name comes from the Latin (sorry!) chelidonia, which means swallow, after the migratory bird, as their flowering coincides with the duration of the swallows’ visit. It was said to be able to cure warts if it was picked at midnight, buried for three days and then the juice spread on the offending item. An alternative name was Pilewort, but I do not know the ritual required for treating haemorrhoids. The leaves are apparently high in vitamin C, hence the German name Skorbutkraut (scurvyherb).
This humble little flower is mentioned in literature ranging from Wordsworth to Tolkien. Indeed Wordsworth wrote a whole poem about them, which can be read in its entirety here. As for his other favourite yellow flower, the daffodil, none of ours flowered this year. As you can see from my photos they do indeed shrink from the cold frost, but they bounce back.
There is a Flower, the Lesser Celandine,
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
And, the first moment that the sun may shine,
Bright as the sun himself, ’tis out again!
Stay tuned for Yellow Bloomers – Part Two.