Thursday, November 07, 2019

A little Dance for you:;,,,,,

Japanese Robot 

I know you have seen this little dancing lady before on my blog -   but I think we need a little fun these days Some people around the world give me a headache.

This little robot made me forget the trouble! She is so sweet!

Have fun

Thursday, October 31, 2019



November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

- Clyde Watson
November is the 11th month of the year, but it was the 9th month in the old Roman calendar. It was named Novemb which means 9. In old Danish it was called Slagtemåned (Slaughter Month), because the animals were being slaughtered before winter.

Mortensaften on the 10th of November is connected to bishop Martin of Tours. He had to be elected bishop in the year 371, but he didn't want to and was hiding among a flock of geese. They revealed him by their cackling, and according to Danish tradition we slaughter and eat the geese on Mortensaften, because they betrayed Morten .

Morten (= St. Martin) is the protector of all domestic animals and the guardian angel of all boozers. Mortens dag is on the 11th November, but the Danish celebration is the evening before, on the 10th. But not only geese are popular on the dinner table that night. Duck, turkey, venison, the tradition has changed like so many other traditions.

A weather omen says that a mild Mortensaften on the 10th of November promises a white Christmas.

A few things happening out in the Danish nature now:
There is only one little bird singing in November , and it sings through the whole winter; it's the wren, the smallest but one bird in Denmark.
The last hedgehogs are hiding for their winter sleep.
The ermine is changing its brown summer fur to winter white.
Some years invasions of crossbills arrive from the north.
Tufted ducks arrive to the country by the thousand.

photo: gb

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Jelling and the Jellingstone - Denmark's Birth Certificate

Denmark's Birth Certificate

With the hills, the church and the rune stones Jelling was not just meant to be a royal mausoleum but quite distinctly also meant to be a powerful center of the Danish kingdom.

Two very special rune stones stand outside the church in Jelling church in the middle of the two biggest grave hills in Denmark. The big stone, Jellingstenen or Harald's sten, is known as Denmark's birth certificate and is the most magnificent runic memory of Denmark. It is dated to a time between Harald's baptism ab. 965 and his death, latest in 987. Upon the broad side of the three-sided big Jellingstone is an inscription which takes up an exceptional position because of the horizontal runes. The inscription is sourrounded by winding bands. The words from Harald himself are:
'Kong Harald bød gøre disse kumler efter Gorm sin fader og efter Thyra sin moder, den Harald, som vandt sig hele Danmark og Norge og gjorde danerne kristne'.

King Haraldr ordered this monument made in memory of Gormr, his father, and in memory of Thyrvé, his mother; that Haraldr who won for himself all of Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian."
(Rundata, DR 42)

The lion and the snake

The ornamental and figurative style makes the Jellingstone unique in the Scandinavian find from the Viking period. The winding style of the lion and the snake is the same early Jelling style as upon the little silver cup from the North hill. The ornamentation indicates that it might have been executed by a North English or Irish visual artist.

(The Silver Cup see my blog):
Ancient Danish Families
June 2006 /article Preface Gorm & Thyra).

Christ with ornaments.On the third side is Christ without a cross surrounded by the typical winding bands. The figures are on all three sides carved in low relief and were probably painted from the beginning of their existence. The Christ figure is the earliest known of the North.

The earliest mention of Danmark.

In the Anglo-Saxon king Alfred the Great's prologue to Orosius' World's History the name Danmark (Denemearcan) is mentioned for the first time in the World's Literature. It started as a local name Danernes Mark ,which was used and contracted as Danmark before year 900. Considering king Alfred's paper the name Danmark must have been in use already before 900. Gorm's stone has the earliest (in Denmark) recorded use of the name Danmark. The stone is raised afterGorm became king in 934 and before his death in 958. The stone is raised after Thyra's death, and we do not know her date of death.

Gorm's memory of Thyra

kurmr kunukr karthi kubl thusi aft thurui kunu sina tanmakar but
Gorm konge gjorde kumler disse efter Thyra kone sin danmarks bod

'King Gorm made this monument in memory of Thyra, his wife, Denmark's salvation'.

The little stone was in year 1600 used as a bench in the porch of the church, but was in 1639 placed close to the big stone.

The stones are strongly identified with the creation of Denmark as a nation state.

Stones by the North hill from the Stone Ship System

In the heart of the North hill was a small Bronze Age hill, exactly at the northern point of a huge stone ship system which southern point ends under the South hill. The northern part of this stone ship system must however have been levelled in the Viking period simultaneous with the extension of the earlier hill, which was then covered in turf. Inside the hill was built a burial chamber with ceiling, wall and floor of wood. The dendrochronological test datings of the chamber have proved that the wood was cut down in 958-959. This is supposedly the time for both the building of the chamber and for king Gorm's year of death. The south hill is supposedly contemporary.

Jelling church and a small corner of the North hill

Jelling church was built ab. year 1100, but before this three succeeding wooden churches were placed here according to excavations in 1976-79. The earliest church from Harald Bluetooth's time was a rather big church, even bigger than other early wooden churches in Scandinavia at that time - a size fitting for a royal church building. The wooden church in Jelling might have been larger than any earlier Danish building and with its forest of columns more magnificent too. The groundplan was influenced by contemporary German churches. There was probably an influence from the palaces in Aachen and Ingelheim.

Gorms burial place is under the short silver bands

It is rather remarkable that under the traces of the wooden churches in the east was a burial chamber like the one in the North hill, and in the room were bones from a man , about 40-50 years of age and about 1.72 m tall. After the examination it was declared that he 'like most middle-aged Danes suffered from osteoarthritis in the bottom part of the spinal column'.
Unfortunately the chamber was broken up and emptied in ancient time. Only little was left, biut it shows after all that the grave furniture must have been very rich. Traces of gold thread which came from fabrics of the highest quality were found together with two silver strap plates (remendebeslag = riding equipment) In the Jelling style like the silver cup from the North hill. When the chamber was cleared they overlooked the little silver cup, which is now at Jelling Museum opposite the church. Unfortunately the Bronze Age hill was disturbed and robbed in the early Middle Ages.

Harald had probably after his christening decided that his father necessarily had to be moved from his heathen grave to a grave in a Christian church. Thyra's burial place is still a big mystery.

Jelling church interior, the frescoes were damaged and have been copied by a modern painter.
On December 3rd in 2000 the Millenium was celebrated in Jelling church after a new and comprehensive decoration.

Jelling Museum opposite the church.

The stone mason and rune carver Erik the Red (Erik Sandquist) has carved a new rune stone and a landmark for Kongernes Jelling, the museum and communication center in Jelling. He says that he felt it a great honour to be allowed to make this stone. It took him 350 hours to carve the 3000 kilo granite block and he made it in the Mammen style with winding dragons and ornamentation. There are six succeeding styles: 1) Oseberg, 2) Borre, 3) Mammen, 4) Jelling, 5) Ringerike, 6) Urness. The styles begin about year 800 and succeed one another for the next 400 years. They are named after the geographical places where the biggest and most important finds have been made.

A big granite stone is now changed into a runestone of the Present. It has four sides, one with the Tree of Life, one with a mask, one with birds and one with a runic text. It is one of Erik's biggests works - and it is a masterpiece. The ornaments are painted in strong old viking colours . The background of the granite stone is not painted, since it was important to see that this was a real granite stone and not a plastic one.

Erik the Red's runic text:

Tyd du tidernes runer
I Kongernes Jelling
Erik huggede dette kuml.

Interpret the runes of times
in Jelling of the Kings
Erik carved this stone.

Past and Present in Jelling, the North Hill and a Jet.

Politikens Danmarkshistorie, bd. 3, Da Danmark blev Danmark, Peter Sawyer
Exploring the World of the Vikings , Richard Hall
Fortidsminder i Danmark, Henning Dehn-Nielsen
Fortidens Jelling, Runemesteren Erik den Røde

Jelling Museum
photo 060408: grethe bachmann, Jelling, Southeast Jutland

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Danish Crown Jewels at Rosenborg Castle

Christian 5.s Crown of the Absolute Monarch

The best known of the Danish crowns is Christian 5.s crown, which was made for Denmark's second absolute monarch Christian 5. in 1671. It was used by all absolute monarchs of Denmark from Christan 5. till Christian 8. The crown is also depicted in the top of the Danish royal coat of arms and the Danish national emblem of arms.

The goldsmith behind the more than two kilo heavy crown (total weight 2080gr.)  was the German goldsmith Paul Kurtz, who worked in Copenhagen. The crown is made in gold, decorated with flat square taffelsten (table-cut stones) and enamel decorations. The round bow of the crown  forms a closure, which was inspired by the crown of the absolute monarch of France, Louis 14., and it symbolizes the monarch's absolute power. The bows of the crown meet at the top in a globe or rigsæble (orb), which is a sign of power and dignity of the monarch.(insignia).  Above the globe is a little cross, it shows in the symbolic language of that period that the church is the only power above the royal power. 

The crown is decorated with several precious stones, like winding rows of diamonds, saphires and garnets. At the top of the cross is a socalled korund: a saphire with a stripe of ruby, and upon the front part of the crown is a square block-stone with Christian 5.s monogram in gold thread. The precious stones in the crown are supposedly re-used from earlier jewelry, like the saphire on the front of the crown, which is  traced back to Frederik 1. It was probably a gift to his father Christian 1. from the Duke of Milan in 1474. 

Christian 5.'s crown was latest used at Christian 8.'s anointment in 1840. The crown became redundant for ceremonial use, since the constitutional monarchy was introduced in Denmark in 1849, the absolute monarchy was abolished and the regent was no longer crowned or anointed. Christian 5.'s crown is still used at the monarch's death, where it is placed upon the coffin in the socalled castrum doloris. Last time the crown was used was at Frederik 9.'s death in 1972. 

The Queen's Crown. 
The queens crown was made for Christian 6.'s queen, Sophie Magdalene, by court jeweller Frederik Fabritius in 1731. It was used until 1840. The taffelsten (table-cut stones) origin supposedly from Sophie Amalie's crown from 1648. The new crown was made for Sophie Magdalene, because she denied to wear a crown, which had been worn by the hated Anna Sophie Reventlow, the second wife of Frederik 4.

Christian 4.s Crown

Christian 4.'s crown was made by goldsmith Dirich Dyring in Odense 1595-96. It is gold with enamel, taffelsten (table-cut stones) and pearls, total weight 2895 gr. The figures in the big points of the crown show the virtues of the good regent. In front, above the king's forehead and repeated above the king's ear, is a pelican which pecks its own chest to feed its chicks, originally a symbol of the death of Christ, but here it is the symbol of the king's obligation to protect his people with his own blood. Above the king's right hand is Fortitudo, the horsewoman upon a lion, a symbol of the king as a warlord, and above the left hand Justitia, the woman with sword and scale, a symbol of the king as the supreme judge; above the king's neck Caritas, the mother with a suckling child, a symbol of the king as the head of the church, his love for God and for his subjects.
Inside the points of the crown are the coat of arms of the king's kingdoms and countries; the crown is open, although the fashion prescribed a closed crown at that time. The Nordic Union-kings had used open crowns, and by following his forefathers example Christian 4. marked that he was the heir of a united North. The crown was used for the last time by Frederik 3. in 1648. The coat of arms were re-newed, and a bow was put on, which closed the crown. Frederik 3. even had to redeem the crown from a banker in Hamburg, where Christian 4. had pawned it in his late years. Christian 5. let the bow and closure remove and melt and re-used the gold and diamonds for the closed crown of the absolute monarch

The Crown Jewels.
The crown jewels history goes back to Christian 6.'s queen Sophie Magdalene. She decided in her will from 1746 that her jewels should not be inherited by one person, but always be available to the queen of the country. Her reasoning was that "there were so few jewels and no crown jewels at all in this royal house". Sophie Magdalene's crown jewels were among others dimond studded hairpins, earrings and pearl necklaces, but most of her original jewelry was remade by the following queens according to changing fashion. Today the crown jewels are primarily four big jewelry sets or garnitures : a brilliant garniture, an emerald garniture, a pearl-ruby garniture and a rose stone garniture. All four garnitures consists of necklaces, earrings and broches, and one has a tiara. (the emerald). The jewelry can be disassembled and be combined in various ways.

The four Garnitures.


 The Emerald garniture  (with tiara)

Set of emeralds and brilliants with diadem, necklace, brooch and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The emeralds were originally a gift from Chr. VI to Sophie Magdalene in 1723.

The four garnitures have the form which Christian 8.'s queen Caroline Amalie gave them in 1840. With a re-use of Sophie Magdalene's original jewels, supplemented with extra precious stones, she had made four garnitures according to the fashion. Besides the four big garnitures the crown jewels consist of additions to the collection by later queens, fx Frederik 8.'s queen Lovisa's pearl "Bayadere", a very long pearl necklace with pearl tassels, and her three pearl bracelets with brilliant- and emerald-locks.

 The Brilliant garniture

Set of brilliants consisting of necklace with seven pendants, brooch in form of a floral bouquet, and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The jewelry dates back to Queens Sophie Magdalene, Caroline Mathilde and Juliane Marie.

The crown jewels belong to the Danish State, but are available to the Danish queen, who usually wear them when it's galla time at the New-Year's Banquet or in connection to State Visits or other big events in the royal house. It is customary that the crown jewels stay in Denmark, which means that the queen cannot wear them on visits abroad. When the crown jewels are not in use, they are kept in the Skatkammeret (Treasury) in the cellar at Rosenborg slot and in "Guldburet" (the Golden Cage ) at the Amalienborg Museum. The Danish crown jewels are the only in the world, which are both on exhibition as museum pieces and used by the queen of the country.
The queen and the other women in the royal family have also a collection of private jewels for their own disposal, among these a ruby garniture from the Napoleonic period, which the crownprincess has used several times. The private jewels are not exhibited, but can be seen when they are used at big galla-events in Denmark and visits abroad. 

The Pearl-Ruby garniture

Set of pearls, rubies and diamonds with necklace, brooch and earrings. Made in 1840 by C.M. Weisshaupt. The pearl necklace belonged to Chr. V's consort Charlotte Amalie.

photo september 2008: grethe bachmann, Rosenborg slot, København.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Boletus edulis/ Karl Johan rørhat.

Boletus edulis, English names: penny bun, porcino or cep, is widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere across Europe, Asia and North America; it does not occur naturally in the Southern Hemisphere although it has been introduced to various countries there. It is a very popular mushroom in Scandinavia, where it grows in big numbers. It is known as the Karl Johan mushroom all over Scandinavia,  named after the Swedish king Karl XIV Johan, who liked this mushroom very much.

Karl Johan, stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan Foto.
In Italy it is described as the wild mushroom par excellence. The Italian name is porcini, meaning "little pigs", but it is often called the king which underlines its status as the most outstanding of all mushrooms. In Toscana it is often cooked with thyme. In a simple dish like an omelet, this well-tasting mushroom shows to its best advantage. In Russia it is known as White Mushroom, meaning noble. In North America are found a number of species closely related to Boletus edulis. (see link below)

The English name porcino seems to derive from the Roman time in Britain, since the Italian name is porcini. I'll call it porcino in this small article. It is one of the most sought after mushrooms of Europe. Many boletus are edible, some with a good taste, others tasteless and others unpleasantly bitter. Boletus edulis is the best - edulis means eatable or edible. Porcino is considered one of the safest wild mushrooms to pick for the table as there are no poisonous species that closely resemble it. The mushroom has to be plucked while young, old porcinos get soft and swampy. Specimens should not be collected from potentially polluted or contaminated sites. Boletus edulis is known to be able to tolerate and even thrive on soil that is contaminated with toxic heavy metals.


The cap is greasy (especially after rain), brown to greybrown, it is often a little nubbly, it is about 10-15 cm diameter, but some porcinos might be 25 cm in diameter. On occassions it can reach 35 cm in diameter and 3 kilo in weight. Like other boletes it has tubes extending downward from the underside of the cap, rather than gills. The pore surface of the porcino's fruit body is whitish when young, but ages to greenish yellow. The stout stem is white or yellowish in colour,  about 5-10 cm tall and 2-4 cm thick, equipped with a fine white network, the brownish stem species have often only a clear white net at the top near the cap - the stem has usually a big bump lowest, which can reach high up on the stem, and this is a good indicator that it is a porcino, but other informations should be used for safety's sake. 

Boletus edulis lives in forest, but it is not choosy, it is found in both softwood and hardwood forests, often in boundaries between those two forest types. It is a common fungi in the Danish forests and can be harvested in large numbers. It is a rather big mushroom, only a few specimens are necessary for a meal. This mushroom is held in high regard in many cuisines. The flavour has been described as nutty and slightly meaty with a smooth creamy texture and a distinctive aroma, which reminds about the leaves in the forest, where it grows.The stem is good as raw snacks, and the cap can be cooked in many ways - sautéed with butter, ground into pasta, in soups and in many other dishes. The delicate nut-taste and the creamy meat its good for risotto and pasta-dishes and sauces and as a accompaniment to venison or a big steak. Porcini risotto is a traditional Italian autumn dish. All boletus give off much liquid during making, which has to be removed or used for a fond or soup.

Boletus edulis has not been successfully grown in cultivation, but is available fresh in autumn. It is sold fresh in markets in summer and autumn and dried or canned at other times of the year. It keeps its flavour after drying. Distributed worldwide to countries where they are not otherwise found.  It is low in fat and high in protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

Løvenholm forest, stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan Foto

Confusion: Tylopilus félleus, fel meaning bile because of its bitterness, (DK: Galde Rørhat)  and Bolétus réticulatus, called Summer cep, (DK: Sommer Rørhat). Boletus edulis is often confused with this very bitter Tylopilus felleus, but can be distinguished by the reticulation on the stalk; in porcino it is a whitish net-like pattern on a brownish stalk, whereas it is a dark pattern on white in Tylopilus. The porcino has white pores, while the other has pink. If in doubt, tasting a tiny bit of flesh will yield a bitter taste.The Summer cep's flesh is less firm than other boletes. The most similar mushroom  may be the Devil's bolete (Boletus santana), which has a similar shape, but has a red stem and stains blue on bruising.

"I confess, that nothing frightens me more than the appearance of mushrooms on the table, especially in a small provincial town."
Alexandre Dumas, early 19th century.

5 good edible mushrooms:
Boletus edulis: Porcino, Cep, Penny Bun ; (DK: Karl Johan)   
Agarius campestri: Field champignon, in North America Meadow champignon, (DK: Mark champignon);
Cantharellus cibarius: Chanterelle, (DK: Almindelig kantarel);
Craterellus tubaeformis: Yellowfoot, Winter mushroom, Funnel chanterelle, ( DK: Tragtkantarel);
Craterellus cornucopioides: Trumpet of death, Black chanterel, Black trumpet, Horn of plenty,  (DK: Stor Trompetsvamp).

Source: Politikens Svampebog, Svampe i Skandinavien, Danmarks Fugle og Natur, Felthåndbogen,Wikipedia.  

I'll have to add this:
Whether or not Boletus edulis occurs in North America is up for debate, says this website from: Mushroom Experts Com.

Wild Apples/ Vilde æbler

Malus species.


The ancient Egyptians planted apple trees by the Nile, the ancient Greeks cultivated apples - and the Etruscians and Romans cultivated apples. Wild apples have grown in Denmark since the beginning of time, but the cultivating of apples started not until the Middle Ages. The monasteries were significant for the spreading of apples in Europe. The earliest identification origins from a monastery in England in the year 1204.

The autumn is a treasure chest of wild raw materials . There are lots to be found- mushrooms, hazelnuts or wild apples, sloe, rowanberry, juniper berry, blackberry, cowberry, elderberry - probably a rich season this year.

The wild apples are sour and best mixed with cultivated apples in jelly, marmelade, stewed fruit apple wine and so on.

But if you have gathered some wild apples, then they are also fine in a Russian Apple Pie. (Sharlotka) First use dark, dry bread crums, and fry them in butter . Remove from heat and add red wine , lemon juice, sugar (a little more than usual) and orange peel. Mix well. Add vanilla sugar. Butter a tin well and sprinkle it lightly with dark bread crumbs . Put a layer of the bread crumb mix at the bottom of the tin, then a layer of thin apple slices and cinnamon. Eventually more layers. Finish with the bread crumb mix. Put the tin in the oven for moderate or low heat = 150 degrees and let it bake for a little hour. Serve it hot - eventually with whipped cream.

photo Hærvejen Mid Jutland: grethe bachmann

Cowberry/ Tyttebær

Vaccinium vitis-idaea

An evergreen 5-20 cm high shrub with shining darkgreen leaves and pink or white flowers in clusters . The scarlet berries ripen in September. It is common in the heather-moors and woods of Jutland and East Zealand, but else rare in Denmark.

The berries were ab. 1800 a large commodity in Jutland, women and children from humble homes made a good profit. People gathered the berries in baskets, in linen-bags and boxes. The the beginners did not pluck clean; they run all over and were disliked by the skilled pluckers. The best berry-places were kept a secret. Cowberries were considered healthy, they were sold to the merchants of the district and sent in large portions to Copenhagen and other large cities, it was a welcome extra earning for the smallholder families. The owner of the heath got a certain quantity of berries or the family worked for him harvesting or lifting potatoes.

Plucking cowberries in Dollerup Bakker

The women usually respected each other's domains, but if unfamiliar women suddenly emerged, tempered discussions happened about ownership and sometimes rough and tumble, while the chilren laughed and yelled. Every Friday the berries were sent to the market, the smallholder's wives sent their own load, it was sometimes so high that they had to go beside the wagon.
Upon a 2200 hectare large heath in Kongenhus mindepark was the plucking organized since 1942, and the income was for the maintenance of the park. The best cowberry-year in 1947 gave ab. 30.000 kilo. In the old days a wife could gather 25 kilo daily, in 1947 a woman at Sønder Omme plucked a record of 49 kilo. The harvest was sold to private, hospitals, hotels and to the gardener-auction in Copenhagen. In Ulfborg Skovdistrikt in West Jutland between Ringkøbing and Holstebro people might pluck as many cowberries they wanted, but only for their own use, not for sale, and the Mid Jutland State-Forests and private forest owners announced that people might pluck cowberry for 2-3 days, but they had to fetch an allowance card.

Food and Tea
The juice of riped berries were cooked and kept in glass- or stone-jars, eaten for steak etc. The boiled juice was used like lemon juice for a punch, and giving taste on wine soups and alikes. The juice could preserve raw meat like vinegar. Boiled down juice gives a very fine jelly. Cowberry jam is popular for panncakes and apple cakes, it is a traditional accompaniment for a roast beef ( and venison). The berries need only half the sugar than what is neccessary for other berries when making jam. In some districts in Jutland, i.e. in Vendsyssel the cowberries were preserved togther with pears and apples. Poor people used fresh or dried cowberry in sweet soup, buttermilk-gruel or as raisins in cakes. From very riped berries were made wine and snaps. In the Egtvedgirl's coffin from Bronze Age were found rests of cowberry-wine. The leaves can give a good tea, and the spring leaves gives a tasty daily drink.

Cowberry was stated in the pharmacopoiea in 1772. The juice mixed with water and sugar gave a cooling and stimulating drink for fever-patients. A tea of fresh cowberry was used against soar throat, crushed berries were placed upon skin diseases, i.e. when children had German measles. The Jutland heath-farmers eat dried cowberries for stomach ulcer. In Greenland the berries were eaten against scurvy.

The leaves dye black , the berries give a red but not fast colour; silver cooked in cowberry-juice turns white.

When the rye is ripe the cowberry is ripe.

Source: Folk og Flora, Dansk Etnobotanik 3, V.J. Brøndegaard, 1979.

photo Dollerup Bakker,  grethe bachmann

Bilberry/ Blueberry/ Blaabær

Vaccinium myrtillus

A very branched 15-40 cm high dwarf-shrub with green, edgy branches, egg-shaped and serrated leaves, round red-green flowers and black blue-dewy berries. Common in thicket, high forests and on heather hills in Jutland, North Zealand and Bornholm.

The berries were from old times plucked in large numbers and eaten on the finding spot or brought home to the household or for sale. At Horsens market places were in ab. 1800 sold several hundred pots of dried bilberries each year. In the dune north of Agger (Northwest Jutland) a planter estimated in 1860 that about 50 barrels bilberry were gathered each year. Poor people from the dune districts plucked barrels full of bilberry and cranberry, old poor women got themselves a little extra earning, and the owners of the area turned usually a blind eye to the plucking. Or else it was mostly the children who were sent out to pluck, sometimes followed by the farm wife or the servant girls; they seldom asked for permission and gave no money to the owner, but it might happen that he or his foreman came up, told them off and took the berries from them. No one could get out of it by telling a lie, their coloured fingers, mouth and lips were betraying them - and when the children came home they were blue-black in the face.

A household with very diligent pluckers could earn 50 kroner daily, that was much at that time; a family in a parish in West Jutland sold in ab. 1900 in one summer bilberries for 1000 kroner, and that was a fortune. A young girl gathered bilberry from first August till late October 1929 and earned money for her bridalwear. In the year 1967 was in a Copenhagen market place sold 5.600 kilo bilberry.

Food and Wine
Berries were eaten fresh with milk and sugar like strawberries, berries were dried in the oven and kept in bags on the loft planks. They were used for a soup eaten with rusks or as currants in cakes. Bilberry jam for panncakes or steak. Bilberry/Blueberry-pie and -cake. Wine can be made of the berries and crushed berries on snaps give a good and healthy liqueur. The dried leaves give a fine tea.

Bilberry thicket in May

Folk medicine.

The medieval physician Henrik Smid (1546) said that wine-decoct from the branches or flowers could be used against diarrhoea. The berry-juice held in the mouth, or chewing ripe berries or leaves healed mouth sores; the crushed leaves could be used as a compress on a swollen head and as a pain-relieving compress on the stomach. Another physician (from the 1600s) Simon Paulli did not quite agree, he said that bilberries could give diarrhoea. But the juice or soup from the oven-dried berries "cool the hot temper of the stomac and the liver".

People who could not endure feather duvets, could instead use matresses and pillows filled with bilberry leaves, this was also recommended for rheumatic pain. The unsweetened juice or tea from the leaves were drunk against scurvy and diabetes. The juice was also drunk against cold and bronchitis, and the berries cooked into a thick puree put on facial eczema.

On the Faroe Islands the leaves were used as a blood-purifying tea. In Greenland the fresh cut leaves were mixed with food against constipation.

The berries cooked with alum mordant wool dye purple, with iron vitriol olive; painters mix the juice with copper chalk and ammonium chloride and gets a red colour, the branches dye brown. Easter Eggs were dyed with the bilberry juice. (ab. 1800). It was once a common thing to colour white wines red with the bilberry juice, it was also used for colouring ( and forgering) red wine. From the berries were made bilberry-snaps and wine. The shrub except the root can be used for tanning.

Many bilberries are a sign of a good barley harvest.

Blueberry is one of the most healthy things you can eat. 
Please read on the net for much more new information.

Source: Folk og Flora, Dansk Etnobotanik, V.J.Brøndegaard, 1979

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Painted Lady / Tidselsommerfugl

Cynthia cardui

The Painted Lady has a wing span of 50-60 mm. It is easy to recognize, and there are almost no variations. The orange colour might be blurred by dark "scales". In rare cases are the circular spots in the seams of the back wings larger and blue in the middle.

The Painted Lady arrives (to Denmark) from North Africa in May-June or (infrequently) in April. Danish descendants fly from late July until beginning of October. As a migrating butterfly it is seen everywhere and breeds in all sorts of open areas. In the migration periods it is often seen in large numbers in flower-rich spots along the coast.

It cannot overwinter in Denmark, neither as a grown-up butterfly nor as egg, caterpillar and chrysalis. In North Africa, from where the Danish migrators origin, flies the Painted Lady all year and propagates especially in the winter period.

The caterpillar's fodderplants are thistles (Carduus and Cirsium) and many other composites and nettle (Urtica) and several other low plants.

The flight is quick and whirring, and in the migrations the Painted Lady might appear in hundred- thousands or in millions. It is attraced to many various flowers, especially Eupatorium (named bonesets, thoroughworts or snakeroots), thistles and buddleias in gardens.

The frequency is variable, depending on the arrival from the south. The Painted Lady might completely fail to come in some years - and most years it is only seen in few numbers. In Denmark it arrives in large numbers in average every 10th year. It was extremely numerous in 1988 and 1996. Seen and found all over the country.

Source: Michael Stoltze: Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1997.

The Painted Lady in other countries: Wikipedia

photo:grethe bachmann

Cranberry Fritillary / Moseperlemorssommerfugl

Boloria aquilonaris

Naturplan foto: stig bachmann nielsen
Cranberry Fritillary has a wing span of 32-42 mm. It is recognized by the multicoloured  underside of the back wing and on the tip of the back wing, which creates a sharp angle. The upperside reminds of the upperside of other fritillaries, but the front wings are pointed and narrow, and the black spots in the middle field make usually a distinct coherent curved line.

The size varies much, and some populations mostly have small individuals. The spread of the dark marking of the upperside vary and the details of the underside vary considerable as to markings and colours.

It flies middle June till late July. Its habitat is bogs with cranberry. It overwinters as a tiny caterpillar in low bog-vegetation, mostly upon the underside of a cranberry leaf. The fodderplanmt of the caterpillar is cranberry.


photo:grethe bachmann
Cranberry Fritillary lives in Scandinavia, Poland, Czeck Republic, Slovakia,  Austria, Germany, Switzerland and in a few localitites in France.
In Denmark has the Cranberry Fritillary has disappeared in many places because raised bogs have been destroyed. At Fyn (Funen) and Sjælland (Zealand) are only left 3 or 4 localitites. The species have disappeared in many places in the eastern part of Jutland, but lives well in other places.

A natural high water level has to be maintained in the rest of the raised bogs, so they do not overgrow - and the bogs must not be exposed to grazing or manuring. Many localities are marked by drainage trenches, which should be filled up - or else grow the bogs into forest, because the peat is exposed to air.

Source: Michael Stoltze, Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1998

Cranberry Fritillary, bog north of Madum sø, Himmerland, July 2011: 
stig bachmann nielsen Naturplan foto: & grethe bachmann 

Small Tortoiseshell/ Nældens Takvinge

Aglais urticae

Small Tortoiseshell, here from a church yard in Himmerland

Small tortoise shell is one of the first butterflies we see each spring . It is Denmark's National butterfly, and it is wellknown and common all over the country. The frequency  changes from year to year dependent on migrations.

Small tortoiseshell, Underside

Small tortoiseshell (wing span 46-53 mm)  is easy to recognize with its clear colours and the white spot on the front wing. The variation is modest, but the three black spots on the front wing might be small or miss completely in very rare cases. Some rare specimen have white-yellowish colours instead of the usual clear brick red. The flying period is from last June until October in one or two generations and again in March-June after overwintering.Its habitat is everywhere, where nettle grows, especially at buildings - and the larvae's fodder-plant is nettle. (Urtica).

Small tortoiseshell and a bumble bee
The butterfly roams about and is seen everywhere. It overwinters as a grown-up butterfly in hollow trees, caves, cellars and not at least in un-heated rooms in houses. The flight is quick and whirring, and the  mating couple are often seen flying close together high up in a spirale flight. The males are territorial, since thy from their resting places fly up against all disturbing insects or other passing animals. Both sexes seek to various flowers, not at least to Hemp agrimony, Thistle and Field scabious or to Asters, Buddleias and flowering herbs in gardens. The tortoiseshell is also attracted to fermenting windfalls.

Flying tortoiseshell  and Buddleia
photo: grethe bachmann 

Silver-washed Fritillary/ Kejserkaabe

Argynnis paphia

Silver-washed Fritillary
Bjerre Skov, Horsens, Jutland

The Silver-washed Fritillary is active right now in July until late August, and each year I go to Bjerre forest by Vejle fjord to look for it. It flies in glades and sunny spots of the wood and loves the blackberry flowers. The Danish name Kejserkåbe means Emperor's Cape and this fine coloured pattern would certainly be a beautiful cape for an emperor. The Silver-washed fritillary lives in Europe except southern Spain, Scotland and the northern part of Scandinavia.

The Silver-washed fritillary butterfly is deep orange with black spots on the upper side of its wings and has a wingspan of 54–70 mm, with the male being smaller and paler than the female. The underside is green and unlike other fritillaries has silver streaks instead of silver spots, hence the name silver-washed. A rare variation in some years is a special female, which is green-black with a straw coloured base.

Unusually for a butterfly, the female does not lay her eggs on the leaves or stem of the caterpillar's food source (in this case violets) but instead one or two meters above the woodland floor in the crevices of tree bark close to clumps of violets. The larvae's fodder plants are various Violas.

The Silver-washed Fritillary is a strong flier and more mobile than other fritillaries and as such can be seen gliding above the tree canopy at high speed. Its flight is safe, fast and sailing and it seeks especially to flowers of blackberry and thistles. The mating dance, which can be watched on good localities in the morning, is very characteristic and beautiful. The male flies down under and then steep up in front of the female, who continues to fly straight on, while the male lose speed and once again dives down under and steep up in front of the female.

In Denmark Argynnis pahia is still common at Lolland-Falster, Møns Klint, Sydsjælland and Bornholm, but has during the 1970s and 1980s declined much in Jutland, at Funen, West- and North Sjælland.

Protection of the species:
This species needs many small and unfertilized glades. It thrives well in forests with extensive utilization, like in stævningsskove, (coppicing) which hold many glades in various growth. The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) is on the Danish Red List as moderately endangered.

In the old days the Silver-washed Fritillary was especially connected to the stævningsskove (Coppicing woods). It is in a serious decline in Denmark, possibly caused by the lack of light-open varied forests. Until ab. 1990 it was numerous in North Jutland in Rold Skov and in Lille Vildmose, but after 1990 it is only known in a few examples, i.e. Rebild, and outside North Jutland in the forests by Vejle fjord, in Gudbjerg skov at Funen and Gribskov in North Sjælland. Still numerous populations in the rest of Sjælland, on the southern islands and Bornholm.

photo Bjerre Skov  grethe bachmann


Dragonfly in culture
Dragonflies have often been seen as sinister. Names like "Devil's darning needle" and "ear cutter" link them with evil or injury. A folktale from Romania says that the dragonfly was once a horse possessed by the devil. In Swedish folklore the trolls use the dragonflies as spindles when weaving their clothes. They are often associated with snakes, a Welsh name is "adder's servant".
In East Asia and among Native Americans, dragonflies have a far better reputation, one that can also be said to have positively influenced modern day views about dragonflies in most countries, in the same vein as the insect's namesake the dragon, which has a positive image in the east, but initially an association with evil in the west.

They also have traditional uses as medicine in Japan and China.In some parts of the world it is considered lucky to have a dragonfly land on you, even to the point of yielding seven years of good luck. Images of dragonflies were common in Art Noveau, especially in jewelry designs. They have also been used as a decorative motif on Fabrics and home furnishings.
About 300 million years ago dragonflies could be about 1 m long and with a wing span of ab. 1,2 m.

photo 2005/ 2009: grethe bachmann